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Warriors better but still take weekend sweep at hands of Blades

Blades take 8-2 win in opener on Saturday before Warriors pick up point in 4-3 OT loss in Saskatoon
When the Saskatoon Blades defeated the Moose Jaw Warriors 8-2 in Western Hockey League action at Mosaic Place on Saturday night, they made sure to let the Warriors know it.

A lot of talking, a lot of braggadocio, the kind of thing that gets teams fired up for a rematch.

When the two teams were back on the ice Sunday afternoon, you can bet the Blades were a bit more quiet in the later stages of the third period.

While Saskatoon would go on to a 4-3 win in overtime, the close call of nearly losing to a team with an average age close to 17, with 10 rookies in their line-up, four affiliated players and most of their veteran core injured, well, that’ll keep you humble for sure.

Logan Doust and Ryder Korczak scored 1:20 apart early in the third period as the Warriors overcame a 3-1 deficit in the final frame before settling for the OT loss and snapping a run of six games without a point.

Tristen Robins scored the game-winner on a re-directed shot from the point with 50 seconds left in overtime.

“I think any time you lose 8-2 you’re looking for some sort of response and I think we had that tonight,” said Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary. “We talk about our group being a little bit fragile, and it might have been easy for them after two periods to say ‘here we go again’. But we picked ourselves up once again, dug in a little and got right after them in the third period. I was really proud of the response for sure.”

Garrett Wright scored the Warriors’ first goal 7:47 into the third as they trailed 2-1 after the first and 3-1 through two.

With captain Owen Hardy, overage defenceman Carson Sass, NHL draft prospect Daemon Hunt and veteran defenceman Cayde Augustine joining rookies Cole Jordan and Eric Alarie in the press box with injuries, the Warriors were forced to play with four affiliated players in 15-year-olds Josh Hoekstra and Jagger Firkus along with Midget AAA Warriors call-ups Atley Calvert and Max Wanner.

“It’s just doubling down on what we are,” O’Leary said. “We’re a young group, so energy and enthusiasm is what it’s all about. Sometimes your team is too young to know any better or know the pressure, and I thought our guys showed some poise here tonight and that’s fine, that’s good experience for them.

“It was a fun afternoon for the whole group, I think, and it’s not a win but we put ourselves in a position here where we can feel good about going on the road, for sure.”

Warriors goaltender Brock Gould put together his best performance in a Warriors uniform, stopping 44 of 48 shots including a slew of difficult saves in the third as Saskatoon pressed for the winner.

Evan Patrician, Martin Fasko-Rudas and Scott Walford had the Blades other goals.

One night earlier, it was the Warriors who got off to a blazing start, outshooting Saskatoon 10-1 at one point in the first period and taking a 2-1 lead out of the opening frame on goals from Doust and Martin Lang.

It was all Saskatoon from there, though, as they scored four in the second and added another three in the third on the way to their commanding win.

Robins and Colton Dach each scored twice, Nolan Kneen, Caiden Daly, Riley McKay and former Warriors defenceman Matthew Sanders scored for Saskatoon.

Boston Bilous made 35 saves in the Warriors goal, Koen McInnes stopped 27 for Saskatoon.

The Warriors are now 12-34-3-0 on the season and sit three points ahead of the last place Swift Current Broncos.

With the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts taking over Mosaic Place (see related story), the Warriors head out on the road for the biennial swing through the U.S. division, beginning Wednesday, Feb. 12 in Spokane and covering six games in 10 days.

Next home action comes Friday, Feb. 28 in the first game of a home-and-home set with the Broncos.

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