The high-sticking penalty 39 seconds into the contest wasn’t so great. The assist on the Warriors first goal shortly after he stepped out of the box? Far better.
The 18-year-old Calgary product looked like his old self on the ice against the Vancouver Giants on Friday night at Mosaic Place, and while he was able to only pick up the single point on Owen Hardy’s first-period goal and the Warriors would go on to a 4-1 loss, it was still good to see his old stomping grounds.
“I was excited coming in, obviously it’s good to be back, but the result is not what we wanted,” Tracey said. “We know we have to be better and we will be tomorrow night.”
Tristen Nielsen would score twice for Vancouver while Justin Sourdif and Lukas Svejkovsky added single markers for the Giants as the two teams were tied 1-1 and Vancouver led 2-1 through two.
The final result was a departure from what the Tribe had put together through their first six games, where they had been rewarded with a 5-1-0-0 record and an honourable mention in the CHL Top-10 rankings.
“We were average tonight, and average isn’t good enough in the WHL,” said Warriors head coach Tim Hunter. “Right from our best players right down to our youngest players, we were average and I told them it’s not good enough. We have to push ourselves to be better, we were average competing on the puck, doing the work, forecheck, tracking, we were a 3 out of 5 all night.
“It’s a learning experience for our group, it’s early in the year and we’re going to have to play P.A. (tonight) and play above average if we’re going to get two points. They’re going to learn the lesson that it doesn’t work if you play mediocre.”
The contest carried an extra measure of interest for former Giants Jadon Joseph and especially Hardy, who hails from Nanaimo, B.C. and played four seasons in Vancouver before being traded to the Tribe three games into the season.
Predictably, there were plenty of smiles and joking around between the benches in the early going.
“There was maybe just a little too much talking in the first period but I think that’s natural when you’ve been on a team so long, I know a lot of those guys over there really well,” Hardy said. “But after that, it seems to just get into a normal game.”
While Joseph was held off the scoresheet, he was once again unstoppable in the face-off circle, winning 16 of 17 draws on the night.
Both goaltenders were spot on throughout the game, with Bailey Brkin turning aside 27 shots, including a two-on-oh break in the second period. Vancouver’s David Tendeck, meanwhile, had a 24-save night and stopped Eric Alarie on a penalty shot in the second frame.
The Warriors were quick to put the loss behind them and change their focus to what will likely be their toughest test of the season so far in Prince Albert.
“We weren’t good enough tonight and they’re a tough team, obviously they won the league last year, so it’s going to be a grind,” Tracey said, “but as long as we take it to them early and play the full 60 we’ll be good.”