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AAA Warriors earn Mac's berth in shootout loss to Blazers

Single point enough to land spot in league's top five, earn spot in prestigious international event
It isn’t all that often that a loss brings with it all sorts of positives, but for the Moose Jaw Warriors and their 4-3 shootout defeat at the hands of the Saskatoon Blazers on Saturday afternoon, it’s was almost all good.

First, you had the simple fact that the Warriors were in the game and competitive – with only a single veteran in their line-up and playing a team that’s sat in the top two of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League all season, things could have gone bad quickly.

But there the Warriors were leading 1-0 after the first period, and 3-2 early in the third. In other words, they were right there with one of the top teams in the league.

And then there’s what the single point in the standings did for the Warriors.

The local squad improved to 9-4-1-0 on the season and, more importantly, officially secured fourth place in the league standings with Nov. 11 only two days away. That’s the deadline for the Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament in Calgary over the Christmas break, with the top five teams in the SMAAAHL as of Remembrance Day earning berths in the tournament.

AAAs Blazers1Warriors defender Sam Boldt blocks a shot from Alex Saretzky.

And with that, the Moose Jaw Warriors are going back to the Mac’s.

“It’s great, it’s a good accomplishment for the kids and that was our goal at the beginning of the year, we wanted to be able to go there,” said Warriors head coach Trevor Weisgerber. “And for them to be in that spot right now is a good accomplishment for the boys, for sure.”

Lucius Schmidt opened scoring for Moose Jaw at 8:16 of the first period as the Tribe took a 1-0 lead out of the opening frame.

After Parker LaLonde and Kobie Anderson scored in the second to put Saskatoon up 2-1, the Warriors had a power play goal from Ben Wourms-Rowe 3:28 into the third and just over two minutes later, Davis Fry put Moose Jaw up 3-2.

It looked as if that might stand as the winner until Daylan Weigel tied things up with 9:01 remaining in the game.

Overtime solved nothing; Connor McGrath and Caelan Fitzpatrick would score in the shootout for the Warriors, Alec Saretzky and Nolan Flaman for the Blazers before Lalonde finished things off with the game winner on Saskatoon’s fourth shot.

AAAs Blazers2Blazers goaltender Brett Mirwald gets his glove on this scoring attempt by Wyatt Wilson in overtime.

“We had a bad second period, we had some penalty troubles and we were just losing battles, we kind of got away from our game,” Weisgerber said. “But in the first and third we played really well and I like we just said to the guys, that’s who we need to compete with and we’re there. So as long as we’re playing the way we did in the  first and third, there’s no reason we can’t keep putting wins on the board and be at the top like everyone else here.”

Chase Coward faced 40 shots in the Warriors goal while WHL Warriors prospect Brett Mirwald had 28 saves for Saskatoon.

The AAA Warriors are back in action Sunday when they host the Prince Albert Mintos. Game time is 1:30 p.m. at Mosaic Place.

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