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Lakovic the overtime hero as Warriors win Game 2 against Wheat Kings

Moose Jaw takes 5-4 victory in hard-fought game, series reverts to Brandon for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Thursday

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- Through the majority of the second half of the season, the Moose Jaw Warriors didn’t have to show a lot of resiliency to find wins in Western Hockey League action.

More often than not, their offensive firepower would be more than enough to get the job done, and more often than not without a lot of difficulty.

But the WHL Playoffs are a whole other animal, and on Saturday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final against the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Warriors had to show what they were made of.

Despite falling behind 4-2 in the second period, the Warriors scored a pair of goals late in the frame and then ground away until overtime, where Lynden Lakovic scored 2:15 into the proceedings to give the Warriors a 5-4 victory.

“It feels great, I don’t think I’ve ever scored a goal that important so it definitely feels big,” said Lakovic, who scored on a one-timer from the slot on a pass from Rilen Kovacevic with 2:15 gone in the extra frame. “We lose this game, it’s a lot different story going into Brandon tied. That’s a tough building to play in, so winning this game is massive and really great for our confidence.”

You can check out Lakovic’s goal right here:

The Warriors had the majority of chances in the first 10 minutes, but Carson Bjarnason made a handful of big saves in the Brandon net to keep things scoreless. It was a different situation compared to the night before, where the Philadelphia Flyers prospect was chased after allowing five goals in a period and a half.

The steady pressure paid off with 8:43 gone, though, but it wasn’t a dash up the ice or slick passing play that got the job done. Brayden Yager picked up the puck along the boards and simply threw it to the front of the net, only for it to bank off Brandon’s Quinn Mantei in front and into the Wheat Kings goal.

A blocked shot at the tail end of a power play led to an odd-man rush for the Wheat Kings, eventually sending Dominik Petr in on a short breakaway and he’d put a shot top shelf blocker side to tie the game at 12:23.

Less than a minute later Brandon had their first lead of the series when Luke Shipley got off a shot from the point that banked to Roger McQueen at the side of the goal, and he’d tuck it in the open net for a 2-1 edge with 13:17 to play.

The Wheat Kings received their first power play with 3:58 remaining in the first, but it would be the Warriors who capitalized 26 seconds in. Denton Mateychuk forced a turnover at the Moose Jaw blueline and worked the puck into the Brandon zone with Matthew Savoie, who hit Atley Calvert with a pass to the front of the net for the game-tying goal.

The Warriors received their second power play of the period late but were unable to capitalize despite a slew of chances. Those struggles continued as the game progressed, and despite plenty of good looks, Moose Jaw will head into Game 3 without a goal on nine chances in the first two games.

The man advantage struggles took an even worse turn on their eighth opportunity of the series as a turnover led to a Brandon two-on-one and Rylan Roersma would keep before beating Jackson Unger glove side for a 3-2 lead at the seven-minute mark.

The Wheat Kings then made it a two-goal lead with 5:30 to play in the second when McQueen broke out of his zone and down his wing before putting home a shot low blocker side.

Brandon continued to hold the Warriors in check until the final two minutes of the period when Moose Jaw suddenly broke through with two quick goals.

Savoie got the Warriors within one with 1:57 to play in the frame when his shot from the right face-off circle handcuffed Bjarnson and dropped into the Brandon net, and 23 seconds later. Pavel McKenzie tied the game after taking a feed into the slot from Calvert and scoring on a shot blocker side.

All told, Calvert finished with a goal and three points, taking first-star honours.

“I think games like that are important this time of year, especially to put some belief in the dressing room that no matter what happens we can come back from anything,” he said. “At the end of the day, a win is a win in the playoffs and that was a big one heading into Brandon.”

Neither team scored in the third period despite chances for both teams. That included a near goal on a goalmouth scramble created by Mateychuk with eight minutes to play and a late-game scramble in the Warriors zone that saw Unger make a couple of big saves in close.

Unger capped his night with 30 saves, while Bjarnason had 34 stops for the Wheat Kings.

Games 3 and 4 are now in Brandon on Wednesday and Thursday, with a 6 p.m. start both nights.

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