PREVIEW: Warriors and Pats meet for sold-out home-and-home

Keith Hershmiller/Regina Pats

Moose Jaw, SK — All eyes will be on the Trans-Canada Clash this weekend as the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats prepare to battle in front of sold out crowds.

The excitement for the weekend series can be felt in the Warriors’ locker room.

“We’ve got a sold out crowd, so it’s going to be super exciting,” Warriors forward Brayden Yager said. “The rivalry between the two teams and both teams are making a playoff push here, so it’s just makes it a bit more intense and it’s going to be a blast.”

The Warriors head into the weekend series with their sights set on clinching home ice advantage in the 2023 WHL Playoffs, while the Pats are still looking to lock up a spot in the post-season.

Moose Jaw is coming off a sweep of their home-and-home against Swift Current last weekend, coming back to win in Swift Current on Friday and then rolling to a win over the Broncos on Sunday.

“We played pretty well, we didn’t like our first period out in Swift Current, but the five periods that followed, I thought we were pretty good,” Warriors assistant coach Gord Burnett said.

“We’ve made a couple of changes lately to our game and we’re really just focusing on ourselves. Try and build off some of the things that we’ve implemented and just refine some things.”

With just five games remaining in the regular season, Yager said the Warriors are focused on getting their game ready for playoffs.

“This week of practice, we’ve been touching down on our new systems and really focusing on the little details, especially with playoffs, it’s tighter checking, so we want to make sure we’re dialled in on our d-zone and neutral zone transition,” he said.

“We want to put ourselves in a good spot to get home ice advantage and we want to play in this building as much as we can and in front of our fans.”

The Warriors are 4-2 this season against the Pats and will be looking to finish off their season series with a couple more wins this weekend.

Burnett said the Warriors need to be ready for the Pats’ attack.

“We need to know when 98 is on the ice, we need to be ready for their power play, hopefully we can be disciplined in our game so we don’t spend too much time on the [penalty kill],” he said. “They have a really good first unit power play and they have some pretty good players throughout their lineup.”

Yager said the focus needs to be on limiting the Pats’ ability to work in transition.

“They’ve got some good players, so we just need to limit their offence and if we can throw pucks behind there defence and us our speed to our advantage, that will work, and throwing pucks on net and crashing and banging, that will set us up for a good weekend,” he said.

The Warriors and Pats battle on Friday night at the Brandt Centre and then they roll into the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Saturday. Both games are sold out.

Puck drops at 7 p.m.

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