It was a only a couple of weeks ago that the Winnipeg Ice came into Mosaic Place and turned in one of the more dominant visiting team showings in the building this season, cruising to a 5-1 win.
Since that time, the Moose Jaw Warriors have looked like a different team.
Case in point, their Western Hockey League rematch on Friday night.
The Warriors battled back to tie the game three times and woud go on to take a 5-4 shootout victory over the Eastern Conference-leading ice, picking up their fifth-straight win and points in eight of their last 10 games.
Moose Jaw is now 22-16-3-1 on the campaign, good enough for fourth place overall, five points back of Red Deer and four points up on Saskatoon.
“Oh yeah, it was awesome,” said Warriors forward Brayden Yager, who had two goals in the contest and also scored in the shootout. “I think we played a really solid game as a team, it was kind of a back-and-forth game but we stuck with it and were able to finish the job.”
After a scoreless first period, Winnipeg got on the board 1:23 into the second when Tanner Brown got off a one-timer from the top of the left face-off circle and beat Warriors goaltender Carl Tetachuk low along the ice.
The goal came after a string of solid saves for the overage netminder in the opening 20 minutes as the Warriors weathered a string of pressure from Winnipeg.
Moose Jaw would get on the board just over 10 minutes later -- and twice in quick succession at that -- thanks to Yager.
After putting up a five-point effort against Edmonton in their previous game, the 16-year-old rookie picked up a loose puck at the edge of the slot and ripped a shot high over Gage Alexander’s glove. The goal was his 22nd of the season.
Only 16 seconds later, Yager would score his 23rd, finishing off an end-to-end rush with a perfect shot top corner blocker side.
“The first one I jumped on the ice and the puck was just kind of sitting there, I got off a shot that luckily went in,” Yager sad.
“And the second one was I just tried to use my speed a little bit and I shot and I didn't know anything happened until I saw (Riley) Niven with his hands in the air.”
Winnipeg tied things up before the period was out when Jakin Smallwood finished off a two-on-one with 22 seconds remaining after a neutral zone turnover.
The period was delayed about 20 minutes midway through when Winnipeg’s Jack Finley went into the boards hard in front of the Winnipeg bench and was knocked unconscious. He stood up under his own power and taken from the ice on a stretcher out of an abundance of caution.
Winnipeg retook the lead 1:11 into the third period, and it was a nice one, as Mikey Milne drove wide and around a Warriors defender before getting off a perfect backhand up under the crossbar short side.
The Warriors were able to turn the tables with pressure of their own midway through the period, and after a slew of near misses, Robert Baco finally broke through with the tying goal, picking up the rebound off a Denton Mateychuk shot and putting a shot home at 9:58.
That tie lasted less than two minutes. After the Ice forced a turnover in the Warriors zone, Connor Geekie went hard to the net and redirected a pass from Zach Benson into the left corner, giving Winnipeg a 4-3 edge with 7:57 to play.
Baco played set-up man on the tying goal with 2:59 remaining, driving wide into the Winnipeg zone and beating a pair of defenders to the net before finding a wide-open Ryder Korczak for the quick shot and 4-4 draw.
That’s where things sat through regulation, and overtime saw both teams with chances to end things early before going to the shootout. There, Yager and Korczak scored, while Tetachuck stopped Connor McClennon and Matthew Savoie to give the Warriors the win.
“They’re one of the top teams if not the top team in the CHL, so to take one of them is a huge confidence builder for us as a team,” Yager said. “We're rolling here right now and we’re going to do what we can to keep it going… we're having lots of fun and that's a that's a huge part as well. Our chemistry has kind of taken over here and we're we're having a blast, that’s the best part.”
Tetachuk continued his impressive play as of late with a 41-save showing to earn the win, while the Warriors had 28 shots on Alexander.
The Warriors are right back in action on Saturday night when they host the Regina Pats. Game time is 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place.