The Moose Jaw AAA Warriors are one win away from playing for the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship (SMAAAHL).
Moose Jaw skated to an 8-3 win over the Saskatoon Contacts in Game 2 at Mosaic Place Monday night to take a two-game lead in the best-of-seven series. The two teams will meet for Game 3 in the Bridge City on Thursday.
“We’re confident, we’ve been in the situation before and we’ve just got to play our game we’ll be fine,” Captain Atley Calvert said.
“It’s a fine line between playing confident and cocky, we’re walking that line pretty good right now and we’re feeling good.”
Calvert, who signed a WHL standard player agreement after taking part in the Warriors 2019 Training Camp, has helped lead the charge for the AAA Warriors on their way to the league semifinal.
The 16-year-old Moose Jaw product was back at it again in Monday’s Game 2 win, scoring twice and adding an assist. Calvert now has seven goals and eight points in five playoff games.
“I have to give credit to my linemates [Ben Wourms-Rowe and Caelan Fitzpatrick], they really set me up in good situations and the puck’s just finding the back of the net right now and it feels pretty good,” Calvert said.
AAA Warriors head coach Trevor Weisgerber says Calvert plays the game properly and has been a great captain for the team this season.
“He’s just improved through the whole year, where he’s placing those shots and finding those little holes,” Weisgerber said.
“He just plays the game the right way, when you do that and you don’t cheat, don’t cut corners and you just play the game hard, you get rewarded.”
Calvert finished with 23 goals, 23 assists, and 46 points in 39 games for the AAA Warriors this season. He also had one goal and three points in 13 games playing with the Warriors this season.
He says the experience of going to the Warriors throughout the season has really helped him develop as a player.
“It just showed me that you have to do everything fast and that’s helped me bring back to the AAA level,” Calvert said, who added he has been able to share that experience with his AAA teammates.
That combined with the team’s hard work and resilience has helped them get to this point.
“We’re just a good group of guys and we lay it out on the line every game,” Calvert said.
“We never give up on a battle, just trying to win as many battles as you can because, at the end, it’s all about competing.”
During Game 2, Moose Jaw fell behind 2-0 in the opening three minutes of the game but battled back to tie the game at two late in the first before trailing 3-2 after one.
Moose Jaw scored the next six goals to cruise to the win.
“We have a good group, we try to play the same way, no matter what the situation is and we’ve shown ourselves that we can come back from no matter what the circumstance is,” Calvert said.
The AAA Warriors have prepared all season for a deep playoff run and received valuable experience when they advanced into the championship game at the 2019 – 2020 Mac’s Tournament.
Calvert says they will use that experience heading into game three and possibly a league final.
“The Mac’s just really showed us what we can do as a team, it really opened our eyes, especially the game against St. Albert, scoring two late, we just kept it going and we’ve carried that on to the playoffs,” he said.
“The boys are feeling pretty good, we were up 2-0 last series too, but game three is the hardest one, so we’re hoping to have a couple of good days of practice and then head up to Saskatoon and finish it off.”
Calvert is expecting a hard push from the Contacts in Game 3 back in Saskatoon.
“We just have to match their intensity and then bring our intensity too, we showed in the last two periods of [game two], we really dominated them, so if we bring that same work ethic and the same attitude, we’ll be fine,” he said.
Moose Jaw faces Saskatoon in Game 4 with a shot at moving onto the league final on the line for the AAA Warriors. If necessary, Game 4 will be at Mosaic Place on Sunday, March 15th.