And they made their move in style on Monday night at Mosaic Place, battling to a 4-2 victory over the Notre Dame Hounds to take a three-games-to-none win in the best-of-five quarter-final series.
It was the third competitive game between the two teams, after the Warriors won the opener 4-2 at home on Thursday before giving themselves the chance at the sweep with a 3-2 victory in Wilcox on Sunday night.
“It feels good, and all the credit to Notre Dame over there, too, it was a tough series for the boys, every game they played hard,” said Warriors assistant coach Carter Smith. “Tonight, that was our best game of the series for sure. It’s pretty easy as a coach when you have 12 forwards and six D going and a goalie standing on his head. I can’t say enough about those kids, that was a great series win and now we just wait for whoever is next.”
The Warriors came out gunning right from opening face-off and were rewarded with the only goal of the first period, with Kirk Mullen scoring at the 10:58 mark of the frame.
It would remain that way until a flurry of scoring late in the second period.
Andrew Stuckless would tie the game with 3:11 to play, but the Warriors’ Ethan Peters would get one back only 39 seconds later and team captain Atley Calvert would extend the lead to 3-1 on a power play goal with 23 seconds left in the period.
Seeing the team bounce back so quickly from what could have been a tough late-period goal was heartening for Smith, and something he’s seen the team pull off many times this season.
“For sure, we’ve seen it all year with these guys, just how resilient they are,” Smith said. “It seems every time we get knocked down or whatever, we have an answer for it and that’s how that series went. They’d show us something and knock us down and those boys would just hit the ground running and come back with something else.”
That’s all part and parcel of a competitive season in Calvert’s eyes.
“We’ve faced adversity all year, like at the Mac’s [tournament] where we faced a ton of adversity and it’s helped us throughout the whole year,” he said. “We’ve been down, but never out of it and we’ve always had an answer.”
That was the case again in the third period, where despite a stretch of Moose Jaw domination in the first 10 minutes, it was the Hounds who would break through at the 10:02 mark, with Brendan Kerr pulling Notre Dame back within one.
But it would be the Warriors’ Chris Otterson closing out scoring with 4:39 remaining – the lone veteran on the team, Ben Wourms-Rowe, added his second assist on the insurance marker – and it wasn’t long after the Warriors were off to the second round.
“You know what, it feels great,” Calvert said. “Me and a lot of these guys haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to take a crack at it, but I think this year we have a real good squad in there and I think we proved it in the first round here.”
The Warriors’ playoff opponent for their second-round has yet to be determined, but the first games are slated to begin no later than Mar. 8.