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Game 1 reaction: Warriors look to rebound after Swift Current takes win in series opener

After everything goes Broncos' way in Game 1, Moose Jaw aiming for improved performance in rematch Saturday night
The Swift Current Broncos acknowledge their fans after their win in Game 1 at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- Before the puck was even dropped in the Western Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal on Friday night, the Moose Jaw Warriors had a sign of ill portent.

First-round scoring leader Matthew Savoie was a late scratch after a lingering injury once again flared up, leaving the Buffalo Sabres prospect out of the line-up on a game-to-game basis.

That bad luck carried over into the contest itself, and by the time things were said and done against the Swift Current Broncos at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, the Warriors had taken a 7-2 defeat and lost home-ice advantage in the best-of seven series.

Despite the lopsided score, the game was anything but, as the Warriors had the lion’s share of possession, zone time and opportunities, but ran into a hot goaltender and an exceptionally opportunistic opponent, leading to the Game 1 defeat.

“The score is what it is, we lost the game and whether it’s 7-2 or 4-2, I still thought there were all kinds of positives tonight,” said Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary. “We generated enough scoring chances to win the game and even what we gave them, there wasn’t a ton. They were opportunistic in bearing down on their opportunities, and there were things we need to clean up, but it was just one game.”

Broncos goaltender Reid Dyck didn’t receive a game star, but was a major factor in the final result nonetheless The 19-year-old Boston Bruins draft pick had 33 saves on the night, many of the spectacular variety, and drew kudos from head coach Taras McEwen for his performance.

“He’s been our backbone all year,” McEwen said. “Some of the grade A’s that were in the slot we’ll want to clean up tomorrow, but even the chances we did give up, here was there. He’s just a calm presence back there and he’s going to be real important for us the rest of the series.”

For his part, Dyck gave credit to his defence for making his job quite a bit easier than it could have been.

“I think our defence did a great job of blocking shots and clearing things in front to let me see pucks,” he said. “I got lucky a couple of times with a post here and there, so even though I’m happy with how I played, one game doesn’t make a series so we’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”

The Broncos made sure to support their goaltender by getting the job done at the other end of the ice. While they didn’t have a lot of zone time, the pre-series concern over what they could do off the rush proved valid and then some, as Swift Current made the Warriors pay for almost every odd-man rush they had on the night.

“They were trying to push and make things happen, so we were creating turnovers and getting odd-man rushes and our guys did a good job of scoring on their chances,” McEwen said. “All four lines were contributing in the third period, too, which is important in the playoffs and made a big difference in holding them off.”

For O’Leary, seeing that happen was a reminder of just how dangerous the Broncos can be.

“They’ve shown all year long that they can score goals and they showed it again tonight,” he said.”It’s one thing to give up opportunities, but we don’t want to give them real good looks whether it be breakaways or two-ones, and that’s something we’ll have to clean up tomorrow night.”

While the Broncos were finishing off their looks, the Warriors found themselves in the exact opposite situation. Chance after chance and a slew of open looks resulted in little more than a loud noise as the puck either hit the glass or the boards, with missed shots a huge factor in the end result.

“We did a better job of that in the first round, hitting the net and trusting our skill, but the longer we went before we scored, we were looking for the perfect shot instead of just getting it on the net,” O’Leary said. “So we’ll be looking to do a better job of that tomorrow.”

Be sure to check back for more from Game 1 and a look ahead to Game 2 of the series on Saturday.

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