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Solid start paves way for Warriors win over Winnipeg

King scores first in WHL as Tribe take 3-2 win over Ice
The Moose Jaw Warriors received a hard lesson in work ethic and compete level at the top levels of the Western Hockey League in their loss to the Prince Albert Raiders a week ago.

They put what they learned to work against the Winnipeg Ice on Friday night at Mosaic Place and lo and behold, they were rewarded for their efforts.

Cory King scored his first WHL goal and Brayden Tracey picked up a pair of assists as the Warriors took a 3-2 victory.

“We knew we had to get the job done tonight and everybody through the week was talking about how we needed to compete harder and I thought we did really well,” said King, who now has three points in his first 11 WHL games as a rookie 16-year-old defenceman.

King’s goal with 5:41 gone in the third period would stand as the game winner and came off a seeing-eyed shot from the point that eluded Ice goaltender Jesse Makaj.

“It feels really good,” King said of his first marker. “Hards [Owen Hardy] went for the shot and it just bounced off the boards and the guy was coming out so I just one-timed it and it went far side.”

The Warriors built a 2-0 lead through the majority of the first two periods, with Carson Denomie opening scoring at the 3:45 mark of the game before Alek Sukunda scored his first of the season with 4:05 to play in the second.

Warriors Winnipeg Hunt shot blockWarriors defenceman Daemon Hunt gets in front of this shot by Winnipeg’s Connor McClennon.

Things became a little dicey at the end of the second period, and for a relatively rare reason – both Tracey and Ryder Korczak were hit with minor penalties on the same play, resulting in a full two-minute two-man advantage for the Ice with 23 seconds to play in the frame.

Michal Teply would snap Adam Evanoff’s shut-out bid with nine seconds left in the period, but the Tribe would kill the second minor off to start the third and preserve their 3-1 lead.

That kill would prove especially important as Connor McClennon would score for Winnipeg with 1:23 remaining to add a bit of tension to the game’s waning moments.

Warriors head coach Tim Hunter was happy to see the team put together an improved effort after the struggles a week earlier.

“We practiced all week on competing hard and managing pucks better and we did that for two periods, but not as well in the third period,” Hunter said “As a team, we’re going to battle if we want to make the playoffs and we have to get these points when we can and we were fortunate to do that tonight.”

Warriors Winnipeg Evanoff KinderWarriors goaltender Adam Evanoff stops Winnipeg’s Nino Kinder in close.

Evanoff was named the game’s first star after once again carrying a shutout late into the contest, turning aside 36 shots in the process. The Warriors fired 27 shots at Makaj.

Brayden Tracey picked up assists on the Warriors second and third goals, giving him eight goals and 18 points in 10 games and moving the Anaheim Ducks first rounder to 28th in league scoring. His points-per-game output is currently the highest in the WHL at 1.8.

The contest also marked the debut of Moose Jaw minor hockey product Atley Calvert, who was called up from the AAA Warriors last week and practiced with the team in preparation for Friday’s game (see related story).

The Warriors improved to 8-7-1-0 on the season, good enough for fourth place in the East Division, two points back of Winnipeg and one point up on Brandon for the second wild card playoff berth.

The Warriors are back in action Saturday night when they host the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place.


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