The Moose Jaw Warriors did their part in front of their hometown fans on Friday and Saturday night at Mosaic Place.
Now the key to the rest of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series with the Saskatoon Blades will be keeping things going in Games 3 and 4 -- and it’s a task the team knows will be anything but an easy one.
Moose Jaw took a 5-1 victory in Game 1 and followed up with a 5-3 win in Game 2, taking control of a series onlookers from all over the league are expecting to be one of the closest opening round battles.
“It’ll be a lot different without our fans, they played a big role here, but I think we haven’t had our best games yet,” said Warriors forward Brayden Yager, who had two goals and three points in Game 2. “We’re feeling good after this one, especially with a big win like this. We’ll be going into Saskatoon with lots of energy.”
While the Warriors had played well against Saskatoon at home during the regular season -- with both their wins coming at Mosaic Place -- the Blades did win six of the eight contests between the two teams and all four games at SaskTel Centre.
But as Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary points out, playoffs are a whole different animal.
“I think the season series is what it is and there was lots of talk about that before the series started,” he said. “But I know that our record is different when we have Carl Tetachuk in net compared to when we don't and there are different circumstances throughout the course of the season that dictates that, too.”
Tetachuk has been his usual solid self through the first two games, and if it hadn’t been for Nolan Maier’s heroics in the first two games, the scores would have been far more lopsided;
That the majority of the goals in the series have been a product of continuous pressure is something O’Leary expects isn’t going to change, especially with the guys playing goal.
“We know that's what we're gonna get with them,” O’Leary said. “Both goalies in the series are going to have their moments where they're shining, and we saw that (Saturday). But I think it's good that we found ways to score, it's not always going to be one way but we found different ways to do it when we needed to.”
One thing that’s for certain is the Warriors are expecting a lot of pushback from the Blades in Saskatoon and will need to be prepared for it.
“The bottom line is we know we're playing a hell of a team in Saskatoon,” O’Leary said. “They have a lot of forward depth that can score goals and they have a really good goaltender so whether we're playing here or there, it doesn't change anything. We’ll have to be ready to play against a tough team.”
The Warriors are looking to have a bit of support from home in Saskatoon, and the Bad Intentions Bus is helping out with a fan bus for Games 3 and 4
The bus leaves from the Crushed Can at 4 p.m. both nights, with a cost of $40 for adults, $35 for students and $30 for kids. The package includes a ticket for the game, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, one alcoholic beverage on the bus and one at the Crushed Can.
Contact email@example.com or (306) 630-3888 for tickets.