The Moose Jaw Warriors are four games into their B.C. Division road swing, and it’s officially safe to say it’s been a successful run for the local crew.
Case in point, their most recent outing Tuesday night against the Victoria Royals.
Warriors captain Denton Mateychuk had a five-point night as the Warriors scored seven straight goals and would go on to an 8-3 win in Western Hockey League action from Vancouver Island.
The victory was the third straight for Moose Jaw and third in four games on the road swing thus far, with their record improving to 16-9-0-0 on the season. More importantly, the Warriors moved into a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Saskatoon Blades, although Saskatoon has four games in hand. Moose Jaw also sits three points up on Lethbridge.
The Royals needed only 49 seconds to get things going, as Brayden Schuurman broke in on a two-on-one down the left wing before beating Connor Ungar with a shot five hole.
Brayden Yager got that one back with 6:14 to play in the period. Lucas Brenton found the 2023 NHL Draft prospect streaking up the ice with a breakout pass, and Yager would fight off a Royals defender before putting home a shot five hole to tie the game 1-1.
Jagger Firkus extended his point streak to 18 games with 25 seconds remaining in the first, with Ryder Korczak winning a face-off in the Victoria zone and getting a pass out to Firkus in the slot. A quick shot top shelf glove side on Nicholas Christiano later, and the Warriors had the 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
Firkus’ streak is the second-longest ongoing run in the WHL, with the 18-year-old having points in all but two games this season.
Another long-range feed from Brenton figured into the Warriors’ third goal. Harper Lolacher was the recipient this time, as he took a pass from the 19-year-old rearguard and broke down the left wing before cutting to the front of the net and putting a shot home along the ice.
The Warriors carried the play much of the period, and Atley Calvert would finish off a lengthy stint in the Royals zone by taking a feed into the left side of the slot from Mateychuk, pulling back on a slick little toe drag and putting a shot top shelf short side on Christiano.
Moose Jaw made it a four-goal game when Korczak took a cross-ice feed from Max Wanner and put a shot home with less than a minute remaining in the frame.
The onslaught didn’t stop in the final period.
Calvert made it a 6-1 Warriors lead seven minutes in, taking a cross-crease feed from Eric Alarie and putting a shot over Christiano for his second goal of the game.
Mateychuk picked up his sixth goal of the season with seven minutes to play, and when he drew an assist on Nathan Pilling’s goal with 1:38 remaining, the Warriors captain had his five-point outing. Mateychuk came into the game 14th among WHL defencemen in scoring, by the time the night was over he was tied for fourth.
Riley Gannon and Alex Thacker scored goals for Victoria in the final seven minutes, but things were long decided by then.
Ungar finished the game with 23 saves for his 12th win of the season, moving into second place in the WHL in that category. The Warriors fired 42 shots at Christiano
Next action for the Warriors is Wednesday night when they take on the Vancouver Giants to close out the B.C. portion of their trip. Moose Jaw stops off in Red Deer on Saturday night before wrapping things up in Calgary on Sunday afternoon.
Next home action is Friday, Dec. 9, when the Warriors host the Hitmen on their annual Teddy Bear Toss Night. Fans are asked to bring new and unwrapped stuffed animals, toques and mittens to the game, and after the first Warrior goal, throw their items on the ice for collection by Salvation Army volunteers.
The donations will be used as part of the Salvation Army Christmas toy program, helping ensure every family has gifts under the tree this Christmas.
Game time is 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.