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Halbgewachs focused on playoffs

Marc Smith

(Marc Smith) The 2016-17 season was a career year for Jayden Halbgewachs as he posted 50 goals and 101 points. Coming into this season, the 20-year-old forward was hoping that he’d be able to replicate that season for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Halbgewachs did more than just match last season’s totals, he blew them out of the water, finishing the season with 20 more goals and 28 more points.

His 70 goals (70 goals!) and 129 points led not only just the Western Hockey League, but the entire Canadian Hockey League.

“You always want to get better than you were last year, but 70 goals is unheard of and way to crazy,” said Halbgewachs. “I was just looking to get another 50-goal season and to add 20 more goals onto that was something that I never imagined or pictured.”

The San Jose Sharks prospect added that he had his eye on the scoring title after falling just short last season.

“To lead the entire league is pretty special and it was something I strived for at the end of the season,” said Halbgewachs. “To lead the whole CHL is something that is above and beyond anything I ever pictured coming into the WHL.”

Halbgewachs is the first player in the WHL to hit the 70-goal mark since Pavel Brendl with the Calgary Hitmen in 1998-99.

Halbgewachs spent the final week of the regular season trying to track down the Warriors’ single-season franchise record for goals. He ended up tying the mark set by Blair Atcheynum in 1988-89.

Despite falling short of breaking the record, Halbgewachs said he’s happy to share the record with Atcheynum moving forward.

“I had a few words with (Blair) and he’s pretty proud of me and I’m happy to share that title with him, it’s pretty special,” said Halbgewachs. “I’m still at the top with Blair and it’s an honour and it just shows the amazing season that not only myself has had but the team has had, without the success of our team, this would have never happened.”

The Warriors enjoyed a regular season to remember as the team set a franchise record in wins and points on their way to the first Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy.

The overall team success led to a number of players reaching career highs.

Brayden Burke finished second on the team in scoring with 113 points, which topped his career-high of 109 in 11 less games. He also had a career-high in goals with 31.

Justin Almeida entered the season with 34 total points. He went on to score 43 goals, second on the team, and finish third on the team with 98 points, while playing in all 72 games. He also only took 10 minutes of penalties all season.

Tanner Jeannot hit the 40-goal plateau with two goals in the regular season finale on Saturday. He topped his previous high in goals by 21 and his 80 points were 28 more than last seasons career high.

Kale Clague finished third in the league in scoring among defencemen with a career-high 11 goals and 71 points in 54 games.

Tristin Langan’s previous career high in points was 17 last season, but he was able to post 16 goals and 42 points in 70 games this season.

Also goalie Brody Willms set a new franchise record with 37 wins.

“This year has been crazy and all the accomplishments that have happened for myself and the team, it’s almost the perfect ending, but we’ve got more perfect endings to make happen,” said Halbgewachs.

The regular season numbers do go out the window now as the Warriors prepare to open the 2018 WHL Playoffs this weekend. After setting records and career-highs, Halbgewachs said that the team will only be remembered if they are able to finish the job in the post-season.

“Everything we’ve accomplished so far, we have to leave that in the past, you’ll look back on those memories later on and for now, it’s about starting new memories,” he said. “We’re starting at the bottom and have to work our way back to the top and that’s how we have to look at it.

“Nobody is going to remember you were number one if you don’t go out there and show it.”

The Warriors host the Prince Albert Raiders for Game 1 on Friday night at Mosaic Place.

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