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Halbgewachs etched his name in Warriors history

(Marc Smith)  With family and friends in the stands, Jayden Halbgewachs etched his name into the Moose Jaw Warriors’ history books on Friday night.

Halbgewachs scored his 49th and 50th goals of the season in the Warriors’ 5-3 win over the Regina Pats at the Brandt Centre, which was game 47 this season for the Warriors. That makes the Emerald Park product the fastest in franchise history to 50 goals.

“It’s pretty crazy, just the perfect play and that puck landed on my stick and I was able to finish it off, so it’s obviously a pretty special moment,” said Halbgewachs after the game.

“Getting 50 goals is a pretty big accomplishment, especially this early in the year, so I’m pretty happy about that and it’s pretty surreal.”

The goal came with 3:35 gone in the third period and helped solidify the Warriors’ lead in the game, putting them up by four again. It gave Halbgewachs his 14th multi-goal game of the season.

Warriors captain Brett Howden, who has played on the same line as Halbgewachs for the past three seasons, was blown away by the accomplishment.

“There’s no words for it, it’s just insane, you can’t even believe it when you really think about it,” said Howden. “Most guys are getting 50 goals in the last couple games of the season and he’s still got 25 games to go… It’s pretty unbelievable that he’s done it twice now.”

Halbgewachs puts his name into rarified air with his second straight 50-goal season, as he joins Warriors and Legends Hall of Fame members Theoren Fleury and Kent Hayes as the only players in franchise history with multiple 50-goal seasons.

“It’s pretty special to be up with those guys,” said Halbgewachs, who is the first Warriors player to hit the milestone mark in back-to-back seasons in 30 years.

“You want to see yourself mentioned with those big names and it’s a good feeling.”

Halbgewachs’ development into a premier goal scorer for the Warriors didn’t happen overnight. He didn’t make the team as a 16-year-old and spent his 17-year-old season getting a feel for the league with four goals and eight points in 59 games.

It was late in his 18-year-old season when he figured things out. Halbgewachs finished with 15 goals and 41 points in 69 games, but then posted nine goals and 15 points in 10 playoff games.

That was all he needed as he took off from there, posting 50 goals and 101 points in 72 games last season and registering 50 goals and 89 points through 47 games this season.

“He’s so dynamic, he’s so hard to hit and he goes to the net, he goes to the dirty areas, a lot of small guys don’t do that, but him and (Matthew) Phillips do and that’s why they’ve both had 50 goals, they get to the dirty areas and they bear down,” said Howden on what has allowed the five-foot-eight Halbgewachs to have his goal scoring success.

Oliver Bjorkstrand was the last Western Hockey League player to record 50 goals in 50 games or less when he scored 63 in 59 games during the 2014-15 season with the Portland Winterhawks.

Halbgewachs has a chance to become the first player to surpass the 70-goal mark in the WHL since Pavel Brendl scored 73 for Calgary in 1998-99.

“He’s a hell of a player and we’re really thrilled to have him,” said Warriors head coach Tim Hunter. “He’s taken his game to another level this year, he’s competing harder and he’s getting inside and getting goals that he didn’t get last year. That’s a key to his game and why he’s scored 50 in so few games.”

Halbgewachs will have 25 more chances to add to his goal scoring total as he looks to help the Warriors remain in top spot in the Western Hockey League. The franchise record belongs to Blair Atcheynum, who had 70 in the 1988-89 season.

The Warriors are back on Sunday in Saskatoon.

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