Four days of scrimmages and practices wrapped up on Saturday for the Moose Jaw Warriors as they closed out their 2021 Training Camp at Mosaic Place.
The Warriors hosted 42 players for their first training camp in two years and Head Coach Mark O’Leary liked what he saw on the ice.
“We’ve been really pleased with what we’ve seen,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent and most importantly, there’s a lot of compete from both our young guys and our returning players.
“Top to bottom as an organization, we’re real proud of how these guys have come in, they’re in good shape and they’re competing.”
Training camp opened on Wednesday with fitness testing at Yara Centre and then the team shifted to their home rink for five scrimmages in three days.
O’Leary said the pace of the scrimmages has increased throughout the five matchups with different players shining in each one.
“The game [Saturday] morning was the best one so far in my eyes,” he said.
17-year-old forward Jagger Firkus agrees with his coach’s assessment.
“Every game just kept getting more competitive and everyone wants to earn their spot on this team, even the older guys,” Firkus said.
Coming off a strong rookie season in the Subway WHL Hub, Firkus has performed well throughout training camp, finishing with a goal in the final scrimmage on Saturday.
He said learn a lot in the Hub last season when he posted six goals and 14 points in 23 games.
“I was a sponge there,” Firkus said. “I just learned from everything, make sure I pick up on anything that I wanted to learn about, so it was great to be there.”
O’Leary said Firkus has been one of the standouts of camp so far.
“Every time he’s been on the ice, he seems to be all around the puck and the puck’s on his stick an awful lot,” he said.
19-year-old forward Kade Runke has also had a strong camp, scoring in four of the five scrimmages, posting five goals overall.
He said he’s focused on speed over the offseason.
“Worked on moving my feet quicker, getting up ice, getting back, a lot of endurance as well,” Runke said.
“I feel really good out there.”
The Warriors will finish off training camp on Sunday with the Black & White Intrasquad Game at Mosaic Place.
O’Leary said he’s looking forward to seeing the players in more game-like conditions.
“You have three 20-minute periods and rest in between,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of bodies, the won’t be four lines, but we’ll keep them short and keep the energy level up.”
Puck drops at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Mosaic Place. Admission to the game is by donation with proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association.