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Warriors’ Calvert looking forward to playoffs with hometown team

After watching from the stands in previous seasons, Moose Jaw forward to be in the thick of the battle this time around
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Atley Calvert celebrates a goal against the Winnipeg Ice earlier this season.

Moose Jaw Warriors forward Atley Calvert might be in his first full season with the Western Hockey League squad, but he has more playoff experience in Mosaic Place than pretty much any player in the league.

That might seem strange, considering the 18-year-old forward has never skated in the WHL postseason. But he was there when Quinton Howden and Brayden Point went on their run in 2012. And again in the seven-game loss to Swift Current in the 2018 postseason.

The Moose Jaw Minor Hockey product knows all about what it’s like when the home of the Warriors is filled to the brim with fans craving a playoff win -- if only because he was one of the thousands in the crowd cheering the team on.

Now, Calvert will be front and centre when the puck drops on Friday night against the Saskatoon Blades. And you better believe he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Calvert said shortly after practice wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve been to a lot of Warriors playoff series and I’m hoping that we’re going to get a good crowd and the fans are into it and this building will be fun to play in.”

Interestingly enough, Calvert has seen post-season success on the ice at Mosaic Place. He scored eight goals and 10 points in six games during the 2019-20 season as the Moose Jaw AAA Warriors made their run to the Sask Male AAA Hockey League final before the pandemic brought things to an early end.

Seeing the game get tighter and tighter as things progressed through the campaign -- and especially in the post-season -- is something Calvert anticipates will be no different, especially with how things went as the WHL regular season came to an end.

“The intensity builds up throughout the year, as the season goes on we try and play as close to a playoff game as we can,” Calvert said. “But once the playoffs hit, the games always mean something, it’s do-or-die every night and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

One thing that every member of the team has taken to heart is dealing with the ups and downs of the post-season. Watching from afar as a fan can be difficult enough in an intense series like the one expected against the Blades; being able to have an effect on the outcome is something else altogether.

“We’re just going to have to make sure we don’t get too high on the highs and too low on the lows, the playoffs are always an emotional rollercoaster,” Calvert said. “It’s going to be a battle, we both have good teams and it should be a good series.”

One thing that’s for certain is the Warriors have no shortage of confidence. After picking up points in 23 of their last 31 games, including wins over every team in the Eastern Conference, the hope remains for a deep playoff run.

“You always want to, but you never want to think too far ahead at the same time,” Calvert said. “You have to take it day by day and game by game, and we’re going to have to be ready to play every night… We’re confident we can win every night we play, we’re going to do our best and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

With the first two games against Saskatoon at Mosaic Place on Friday and Saturday night,  Games 3 and 4 of the series are in Saskatoon on Tuesday and Wednesday; Game 5, if necessary, is in Moose Jaw on Friday, Apr. 29, followed by Game 6 in Saskatoon on Saturday, Apr. 30 and the deciding Game 7 in Moose Jaw on Tuesday, May 3.

Playoff tickets are now on sale, and you can pick them up by visiting the Warriors office in Mosaic Place or by visiting www.mjwarriors.ca.