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Game 5 reaction: Warriors win fourth straight against Broncos to advance to third round

Moose Jaw finishes off Eastern Conference semifinal in five games, to face Saskatoon in next round beginning Friday
Former longtime teammates Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie greet one another after the Warriors ended Swift Current’s season on Friday night.

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- When the Moose Jaw Warriors lost Game 1 of the Western Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal to the Swift Current Broncos last Friday night, there was a sense the two teams were going to be in for a long and difficult series.

Instead, the exact opposite happened.

The Warriors not only won the next game at home, they’d sweep the Broncos in Swift Current and finish off the series with four straight wins, culminating in a 4-2 victory in the fifth and deciding game on Friday night in front of the third-straight sold-out crowd at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

“If you told me that before the series started, I would have thought you were crazy,” Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary said of winning four straight games against a Broncos team that had only seven losses since the trade deadline. 

“It’s a real good team over there, but I just like this group. There’s something special about them and the biggest thing is when something negative happens or we’re put in certain circumstances, I think it just makes us better. I think it’s a great quality, and that we’re able to punch back in tough times is a big part of it.”

Bob Clarke Trophy winner Jagger Firkus led the way with a hat trick before the game was 26 minutes old, forcing the Broncos to chase the rest of the night. They’d get one back late, but a Matthew Savoie empty-netter finished things off, and the celebration was on.

Firkus had a little bit of an extra push in the contest, as revealed by a puck he carried during the post-game interviews -- ‘Mayla’s first game, Uncle Jags playoff hat trick’

“It’s a little bit of extra motivation coming into the game, and especially since we understood they were going to be playing hard tight and it was do or die for them,” Firkus said. “I just want to be a player that leads the way in those kinds of game.”

While falling behind early wasn’t ideal, Firkus was of much the same opinion as his head coach in that it was just a matter of time before they responded, as was the case all series.

“To score goals, it’s fun, especially when the crowd is like they are tonight,” said Firkus, who now has nine goals and 18 points in nine playoff games. “We appreciate the fans coming out and supporting us like they did tonight, it means a lot to us and gives us some extra jump and we’re looking forward to the next series to see what we can do.”

Interestingly enough, despite his two-points-a-game pace, Firkus isn’t leading the league in scoring after Friday night. That would be Warriors captain Denton Mateychuk, who had another two assists for five goals and 19 points in nine games.

As one might expect, the points are nice for the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, but not at all a focus.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing, but (points) don’t really matter as long as we’re winning,” Mateychuk said matter-of-factly. “It’s a new round and we have to reset now and get ready for the next round and another tough team.”

Games 1 and 2 are in Saskatoon on Friday and Saturday of next week, followed by Games 3 and 4 in Moose Jaw on Tuesday, Apr. 30 and Wednesday, May 1.

Be sure to keep an eye on Warriors social media for when tickets go on sale, as they’re expected to sell out fast.

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