The Moose Jaw Warriors just didn’t have luck on their side this weekend, losing three games by one goal. The latest being a 2-1 overtime loss to the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday night at Mosaic Place.
The tribe had lost 3-2 on Friday in Brandon and then blew a 2-0 lead to Seattle in a 4-3 overtime loss on Saturday, but they came out with a strong effort on Sunday against the top team in the Eastern Conference.
“Kendall (McFaull) called the boys out (on Saturday) and wanted more out of us, and I’m pretty proud the way the guys responded too, all the way up and down the lineup,” said 20-year-old forward Jordan Messier.
“It was a different story tonight than (Saturday). We had our chances around the net, it was a full sixty minute effort, could have been a bounce here or there either way, but you’ve just got to find a way to dig down team and get those points.”
With both teams playing their third game in three nights, the game wasn’t expected to feature many fireworks, but that changed midway through the first period when rookie forward Nikita Zagryadskiy, playing for the first time this season, dropped the gloves with 19-year-old Calgary defenceman Alex Roach.
The Hitmen struck first on the scoreboard with Cody Sylvester tipping home a Spencer Humphries point shot, 13:09 into the first period.
Joel Edmundson and Brendan Hurley fought near the end of the first as the two teams played with an edge usually reserved for playoffs, and not the end of a three-in-three.
Warriors captain Kendall McFaull played with a physical edge throughout the game, including a fight with Jaynen Rissling early in the second period, following a big hit by McFaull.
The score remained 1-0 for Calgary until the late moments of the third period. Moose Jaw upped the pressure on the Hitmen and were rewarded when a long wrist shot from Torrin White found its way past Mack Shields to tie the game one a piece with 1:37 to go.
Warriors assistant coach Mark O’Leary says it was nice to see White get rewarded for his hard with that big goal, “Not everybody gets excited about the little things that he does, but I know we do on the bench. He’s one of the best in the league at blocking shots and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed with us.”
White’s fourth goal of the season would send the game to overtime. Despite Moose Jaw controlling the play for the final ten minute of the third period, Calgary came out flying to start the extra frame and 2:13 in a point shot from Rissling beat Justin Paulic for the game winner.
“We were just a little extra motivated to go 3-0 on a three games in three nights is something that’s pretty special and we worked pretty hard for it I thought,” said Rissling after the win. “Giving up that late goal in the third, we didn’t let it get us down too much and just worked hard.”
The Warriors penalty kill kept them in the game early and finished 5-for-5 on the night, but missed opportunities on the power play hurt the tribe as they were 0-for-3.
“You look back and would have, should have, could have, a lot of times tonight, but there was a positives to be taken out of the way we played,” said Messier. “We had Sammy (Fioretti) go down early in the game and we had a lot of guys step up and play some big minutes and to score a goal late and get a point out of it was huge.”
O’Leary added that the veterans on the team really stepped up and finished the weekend strong, “When Kendall speaks the guys listen. It starts with him and they know what they want to do and they stuck with it, they played hard right to the end and they were rewarded with one point.”
Moose Jaw came into the game already missing veterans Justin Kirsch and Reid Jackson to injury and lost leading scorer Sam Fioretti at the end of the first period and he didn’t return. No word on Fioretti’s injury after the game.
Paulic made 23 saves in the loss and took first star in the game. Calgary’s Shields was second star and stopped 25-of-26 shots he faced.
The Warriors finish their busy weekend with a 0-1-2-0 record to move to 7-7-3-2 on the year and now they’ll head out on the road for three games next week. They’ll have a rematch in Calgary on Wednesday night before heading to Medicine Hat on Friday and Kootenay on Saturday. Next home action for the tribe will be next Monday for a 2:00pm game against Lethbridge.
Western Canada Under 16 Challenge
Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Zachary Sawchenko was named a tournament all-star during last weekend’s Western Canada Under 16 Challenge in Calgary. Sawchenko posted a 1-0-1 record and had a tournament leading .961sv% and a 1.44gaa. Alberta lost 9-3 to British Columbia in the gold medal game.
Sawchenko, a Calgary product, was drafted 33rd overall by the Warriors in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft and is currently playing with the Notre Dame Hounds in the SMAAAHL.
Fellow Warrior 2012 Bantam Draft pick Ryan Gardiner suited up for Manitoba at Western Canada Under 16 Challenge. Manitoba lost 2-1 to Saskatchewan in the bronze medal game.