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After impressive first-round showing, Warriors’ Tetachuk ready for Winnipeg

Overage goaltender looking forward to test against WHL regular-season champion Ice
Tetachuk file
Moose Jaw Warriors goaltender Carl Tetachuk is ready for what will be a tough second-round series against the Winnipeg Ice.

When the Moose Jaw Warriors were heading into their first-round series with the Saskatoon Blades, there was little question that goaltender Carl Tetachuk was going to have to be his usual solid self in order for the team to advance.

In the end, not only was Tetachuk good, he was often outstanding, going toe-to-toe with big saves against Saskatoon standout Nolan Maier and backstopping the Warriors to a four-games-to-one win in the Eastern Conference quarter-final.

Now, it only gets more difficult.

Next up are the Winnipeg Ice, the WHL regular-season champions who just rolled to a 4-1 series win of their own over the Prince Albert Raiders. A team with a ton of firepower and a high-scoring defence that has no problem putting up a lot of goals fast.

But the Warriors are a confident group right now, and it all starts with the guy in goal.

“I think we have a good vibe in the room, all the guys are excited for it and it’s going to be a good test for us, but we’re capable of beating them,” Tetachuk said after practice on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m going to have to be mentally prepared, for sure. They’re a skilled team and they make a lot of fancy plays so I’m going to have to be dialled in for everything and be ready for anything,”

The 20-year-old netminder has seen firsthand what Winnipeg can do -- he was in goal for all 10 markers Winnipeg scored in the first meeting between the two teams back in October, a 10-2 Ice win in Winnipeg.

But Tetachuk was also in goal back on Jan. 28, when he stopped 41 shots, including a pair in a shootout, as the Warriors took a 5-4 win at Mosaic Place. And he had a front-row seat for the Warriors’ dramatic 3-1 win in front of 16-year-old Jackson Unger back on Apr. 2.

In fact, the two teams faced each other four times after the trade deadline, with the Warriors winning two of those battles.

‘I think that’s in the back of our head, we had two wins against them and if we can stick to our gameplan, I think we can work them down and grind it out down low and find some success,” Tetachuk said.

Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary is taking much the same approach to the Saskatoon series when it comes to how things played out during the regular season -- different intensity, different line-ups, different everything -- but had little doubt how important Tetachuk will be to their success.

“It’s tough to read a whole lot into a season series, we talked about that against Saskatoon that they had a better season record but we didn’t have Carl in net, and Winnipeg is the same thing,” O’Leary said. “There are always different circumstances that pop up during the course of a year that change from game to game and especially in the playoffs. But right now, with our line-up and with Carl playing the way he is, we certainly have a chance.”

The Eastern Conference semifinal kicks off with Games 1 and 2 in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday night. The series reverts to Moose Jaw for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday, May 10 and Wednesday, May 11 at Mosaic Place. Game 5, if necessary, is Friday, May 13 in Winnipeg, with Game 6 back in Moose Jaw on Sunday, May 15 and Game 7 in Winnipeg on Tuesday, May 17.