Baco’s hat trick powers Warriors over Tigers on Friday

Nick Pettigrew/Moose Jaw Warriors

Robert Baco has worked hard all season and received the reward on Friday night.

The Slovakia forward scored his first career WHL hat trick to lead the Warriors to a 6-2 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers at Mosaic Place.

“We had pretty good chances, we played good the whole game and consistent, the most important thing,” Baco said after the win.

Brayden Yager added two goals and Eric Alarie picked up a goal and three points in the win for Moose Jaw.

Baco scored back-to-back goals in the second period to help the Warriors build up a 3-1 lead after 40.

Warriors assistant coach Gord Burnett said it was nice to see Baco’s hard work pay off with the hat trick performance.

“Really happy for him, one for being ready for the opportunity then two, getting the opportunity and taking advantage of it, he’s done a great job,” he said.

In his first season in Moose Jaw, Baco had two goals in his first 30 games, but has broken out with six goals in his last five games, including a three-game goal streak.

He said he’s done a lot of work off the ice to get on track this season.

“I started to work with my mental coach because I was far away from home and my mentality wasn’t perfect,” Baco said. “He helped me a lot and my parents are my biggest fans, so that helped me a lot and I keep 100 per cent maximum performance in practice.”

After a 13-day hiatus from game action, the Warriors came out of the gate firing with Yager finishing off a great feed from Jagger Firkus to open the scoring just 1:35 into the game.

The first period was back-and-forth and Medicine Hat found the equalizer from Carter Chorney with 1:36 left in the opening frame.

Moose Jaw took over after that with Baco picking up back-to-back goals just 3:26 apart midway through the second period to give the Warriors a two-goal lead after two periods.

Yager added his second of the night on another great feed from Firkus 4:17 into the third.

Then just before the midway point of the period, Baco broke in shorthanded and buried his hat trick goal to make it 5-1 for the Warriors.

Moose Jaw took a five-goal lead when Alarie ripped home his 10th of the season to just 4:37 later.

Rhett Parsons scored a late goal for Medicine Hat, but it was too little, too late.

“It took a little bit to get into it, it was good to be on top early and get the first one, but it took a little bit to get our hockey legs back,” Burnett said.

“I thought we did a pretty good job, especially we’ve been off for a while.”

Carl Tetachuk made 25 saves in the win for Moose Jaw, while the Warriors scored six goals on just 22 shots.

Moose Jaw was 0-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.

The Warriors are back in action on Saturday when they host the WHL-leading Winnipeg ICE at Mosaic Place. Puck drops at 7 p.m.

Moose Jaw will finish off their three-in-three weekend with a trip into Regina on Sunday afternoon.

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