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Warriors get off to fast start, go on to win in Edmonton

Three goal first period the difference as Moose Jaw goes on to 4-1 victory over last-place Oil Kings
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The last time the Moose Jaw Warriors took the ice in Edmonton against the Oil Kings, they endured one of their most frustrating games of the season on the way to a 3-2 loss. 

There were no such concerns in the rematch on Friday night, as the Warriors scored three in the first period and would go on to an 4-1 victory in Western Hockey League action from Rogers Place.

The win saw the Warriors improve to 31-16-0-3 and once again leapfrog the Saskatoon Blades into third place in the Eastern Conference, though Saskatoon continues to have four games in hand.

Moose Jaw had a couple of chances in the first minute of the game and scored the contest’s opening goal only 2:35 into the proceedings. Robert Baco did the honours, jumping on the rebound off a Denton Mateychuk one-timer and lifting a shot home.

Jagger Firkus made it a 2-0 game midway through the period, with Logan Dowhaniuk doing the majority of the work by circling behind the Edmonton net and finding Firkus in the right face-off circle for the one-timer. 

Moose Jaw then took a three-goal lead with just over three minutes to play in the first, as Eric Alarie forced a neutral zone turnover and went in on a breakaway, beating Edmonton starter Kolby Hay blocker side.

Edmonton looked like they were going to get one back with 25 seconds left in the period, but Jackson Unger made a great cross-crease glove save on Rhett Melnyk to preserve the shutout.

Things didn’t change much to start the second period, as the Warriors kept up the pressure and were rewarded with a bit of a lucky one. Josh Hoekstra took a long range shot from just inside the blue line that beat Hay short side, making it a 4-0 game 2:18 into the period.

Edmonton got one back at the 10:51 mark, with Rilen Kovacevic intercepting a cross-ice pass at the Warriors blueline and going in on a breakaway before finishing with a quick shot glove side.

Denton Mateychuk picked up assists on the first two goals and now has 45 helpers on the campaign, moving into a tie for first among defenceman in that category with Regina’s Stanislav Svozil. The Columbus Blue Jackets draft picks are also a point back of Connor Bedard for the overall league lead, and Mateychuk is third among defenceman scoring with 51 points.

Unger ended up with a handful of big saves as the game progressed and finished with one of his best games of the season, turning aside 42 shots. The Warriors had 27 shots on Hay.

The Warriors continue their Alberta road swing on Saturday night when they travel to Calgary to face the Hitmen. Game time is 8 p.m. from the Scotiabank Saddledome.

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