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Warriors lock down home ice advantage in first round with win in Winnipeg

Moose Jaw to finish in fourth in Eastern Conference after picking up 6-4 victory for 40th win
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The Moose Jaw Warriors not only came away with a big win against the Winnipeg Ice on Wednesday night in Winnipeg, they also set a whole host of season milestones.

With their 6-4 victory in Western Hockey League action, the Warriors picked up their 40th win, locked down fourth place in the Eastern Conference and landed their first victory at the Wayne Fleming Arena this season.

The Warriors improved to 40-23-0-3 with the win, moving seven points clear of the Lethbridge Hurricanes for fourth place in the Conference. With the Hurricanes having only three games remaining, the Warriors will officially have home ice advantage when the playoffs begin next week.

Wednesday’s victory was an impressive one, too, as it saw the Warriors rally from a 3-1 deficit with four straight goals against the top team in the WHL.

Moose Jaw opened scoring 9:51 into the first period, and it was the product of some hard work on the forecheck. Jagger Firkus stole the puck from a Winnipeg defender behind the net and fired a pass into the slot to Josh Hoekstra, who’d use a bit of time and space to beat Mason Beaupit with a shot low glove side.

Matthew Savoie tied the game just over a minute later, picking up a turnover in the Warriors zone and going around the net to try a wrap-around, only to have the puck go off a defender in front and into the Moose Jaw net.

Winnipeg then took the lead with 4:59 to play in the first period. Graham Sward got a shot off from the point that Jackson Unger was able to stop, but Evan Friesen outduelled his defender in front and put the rebound home to make it a 2-1 game.

Three minutes later, another bouncing puck went Wnnipeg’s way, this time finding Zack Ostapowich at the side of the net for the chip in after a Ben Zloty point shot.

A three-on-one break got the Warriors back within one three minutes into the second period. Brayden Yager got off the initial shot and had the puck trickle to the side of the net, where Firkus would poke the puck back out front and Yager would put it into the open net.

Moose Jaw had a couple of odd-man rushes in the ensuing few minutes, and Yager would make one of them count with 9:01 gone, breaking in on a three-on-two and using an Ice defender as a screen before putting a shot home.

The Warriors received their first power play of the game moments later, and they’d strike again. Atley Calvert was johnny on the spot to gather up a rebound from a Ryder Korczak point shot and he’d stuff the puck under Beaupit to give Moose Jaw back the lead at 10:40.

There things remained until 8:28 remained in the third period when the Warriors would strike for a key insurance goal. Eric Alarie battled for the puck along the end boards and sent a spinning backhand pass into the slot, with Ryder Korczak getting off the one-timer for the 5-3 lead.

Ostapchuk scored his second of the game 1:05 later, but that would be as close as Winnipeg would get, as Firkus put home an empty netter with one second remaining to finish things off.

Unger finished his night with 34 saves, while the Warriors had 35 shots at the other end of the ice.

The Warriors will look to close out the regular season this weekend when they travel to Prince Albert on Friday and host the Saskatoon Blades Saturday. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

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