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Defensive struggles pave way for Warriors loss to Swift Current

Broncos score final four goals of game on way to 8-5 win in East Division Hub
Warriors SC Ginnell goal
The Moose Jaw Warriors celebrate Brad Ginnell's go-ahead goal in the second period.
Odd-man rush after odd-man rush, turnovers at the worst times and just about everything that could go wrong defensively was the order of the day for the Moose Jaw Warriors in Western Hockey League action on Thursday night.

And the Swift Current Broncos were all too happy to make them pay. 

The Broncos scored four times in the first, and after a Warriors rally to take a 5-4 lead late in the second, would score the game’s final four goals for an 8-5 win in the East Division Hub.

The Warriors fell to 4-6-1-0 with the loss and are winless in their last five.

“Tonight, it was our defencemen getting a little too excited to get into the offence,” Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary said when asked what the issue was with Swift Current getting numbers up ice so often. “You go against any team and you get some odd man rushes, you only need so many looks before it’s going to be in the back of your net. There are different situations where we ask our defencemen to jump up between the dots and play offence, but there were too many times where they were up against the boards trying to keep the puck alive so they could play offence. There will be an urgency to help them understand that you’re a defenceman first and you support the rush.

“You can chalk that up to being young, but another part of it is being stubborn and the willingness buying into how we want to play.”

A rough as things turned out, the Warriors got on the board quickly, as Jagger Firkus pounced on a rebound off a Riley Krane shot and slipped the puck under Isaac Poulter only 1:15 into the game. Denton Mateychuk drew the second assist, having hit Krane with a perfect pass from the far boards to set up the scoring chance.

The next eight minutes?

Not nearly as good.

Swift Current got one back four minutes later as Eric Houk found himself all alone in front of Warriors goaltender Brett Mirwald, took a pass from Aiden Bulych and hammered home a shot five-hole.

The Broncos then went up 2-1 two minutes later, with Jordan Borysiuk finishing off a two-on-one after a turnover at the Warriors blueline, and Caleb Wyrostok would make it 3-1 only 1:15 after that marker, tipping home a shot from the point.

The Warriors regained their composure after that goal, though, and it paid off as Calder Anderson finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Brad Ginnell and Atley Calvert with just over five minutes to play in the period.

Kaleb Bulych restored the two-goal lead before the period was out, with his long shot from the top of the face-off circle deflecting off Mirwald’s blocker and in.

The second period started much as the first -- the Warriors took advantage of back-to-back Broncos penalties for a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, and captain Daemon Hunt scored on a quick shot from the slot to get his team back within one 1:51 into the frame.

Atley Calvert then drew the Warriors back to even with 15:15 gone in the period, scoring his first goal of the season after taking a clearing pass off the boards from Anderson, going in on a short-handed breakaway and going top shelf with a nifty backhand.

Ginnell gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with just over a minute left, as Logan Doust’s shot from the slot on the power play banked off Ginnell’s foot at the top of the crease and in.

“To be honest, if you go man to man with our forward group, 90 per cent of our forwards had a hell of a game and it was nice they got rewarded,” O’Leary said. “We had some guys get on the scoresheet who hadn’t been rewarded yet, but more just how they were playing. Our offensive attack and being on the right side of our forecheck and hemming them in, just playing the right way, our forward group did a great job of that.”

Unfortunately for the Warriors, Ginnell’s goal would be the last good news for the Warriors on the night.

Owen Pickering would tie the game for Swift with 20 seconds remaining, Matthew Ward gave the Broncos a 6-5 lead three minutes into the third and Aiden Bulych extended the lead to 7-5 with 8:44. Farren capped things off with an empty-net goal with 52 seconds remaining.

The Warriors are back in action Friday when they take on the Saskatoon Blades, who hold down first place with a 9-0-1-0 record. Game time is 8 p.m.