The Moose Jaw Warriors got off to a great start and had to show a bit of resiliency, but the end result was still in their favour on Friday night in Prince Albert.
The Warriors scored the game’s first three goals and the final two on their way to a 5-3 win over the Raiders in their last road game of the Western Hockey League regular season.
The evening also answered the final question with regards to the playoffs for the Warriors -- who their first round opponent will be. With Lethbridge taking a win over Red Deer, Moose Jaw will face the Hurricanes in the first round and have home ice advantage. The series will kick off on Friday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
Not that it matters in the bigger scheme of things, but the Warriors improved to 41-23-0-3 and will finish in fourth in the Eastern Conference and third in the East Division.
The Warriors opened scoring midway through the first period, with Matthew Gallant setting things up thanks to a long breakout pass to Martin Rysavy. The Czech forward carried into the Prince Albert zone and found Ben Riche with a pass back into the slot, and Riche would one-time a shot top shelf glove side for the 1-0 lead at 10:17.
There things remained until 7:45 had passed in the second period, when the Warriors got a bit of puck luck. Jagger Firkus got off a shot from the slot that banked off the glass, straight back out over the net and off goaltender Max Hildebrand before finding the back of the net.
Three minutes later, Logan Dowhaniuk made it a 3-0 lead, pouncing on a huge rebound off a shot by Tate Schofer and putting the puck into the wide-open cage.
Prince Albert took advantage of their first power play to get on the board with 8:10 remaining in the period. Sloan Stanick got the tip out of traffic in front, with Landon Kosior providing the point shot that led to the goal.
The Warriors had chances to extend their lead in the third period -- including a penalty shot by Riley Niven -- but the two-goal lead stood until 8:22 remained in the frame.
Prince Albert made it a 3-2 contest with a power play goal when Niall Crocker tipped a Ryder Ritchie point shot home, putting pressure on the visitors down the stretch.
The Raiders then completed the comeback with their third power play goal of the game. Stanick picked up his second of the night, finishing off a break up the ice by tipping home a shot by Kosior.
The tie didn’t last long. Ryder Korczak made it 4-3 Moose Jaw just over a minute later with another good bounce, with his shot from the face-off circle deflecting off a sliding defenceman and popping up and over Hildebrand into the net.
Firkus then padded the lead with 2:18 to play, putting home a shot five hole from the right faceoff circle. The goal was the Seattle Kraken prospect’s 40th of the season and saw him continue to hold down 10th place in WHL scoring with 85 points.
Jackson Unger finished with 29 saves for the Warriors, while Max Hildebrand turned aside 24 shots for Prince Albert.
The Warriors close out the regular season on Saturday night when they face the Saskatoon Blades. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.