Odd-man rushes generated by overwhelming team speed, a hard forecheck that created turnover after turnover, and an overall offensive touch from players who will be looked to put up points in the future.
It marked the first time in 13 games that everything clicked as well as it did, and while it was against the only team with a worse record in the in WHL in the Swift Current Broncos, the Warriors’ 6-2 win at Mosaic Place was certainly most welcome.
“It felt really good, it’s great to get a win with the guys and we’re excited to come out for the games coming up, so it was really good,” said Warriors defenceman Daemon Hunt, who played in his first game since suffering a severe cut to his arm that required nearly two months of recovery.
“It was tough watching, we didn’t get the results we wanted. But it’s nice to come home and give the fans what they deserve and get a win on home ice, that’s great.”
As for the right forearm -- which was cut so deep that a muscle was severed and required surgery – there are no issues whatsoever.
“It feels really good, I don’t even notice it on the ice,” Hunt said. “I feel strong and I feel healthy, so I had confidence out there and I just went out and played my game.”
In the early going it looked like it was going to be another one of those nights for the Tribe, as Kaleb Bulych and Cole Nagy scored for Swift Current in the first 10 minutes to take a 2-0 lead.
Martin Lang would get one back midway through the period, though, and Cade Hayes would tie the game with 3:43 left in the frame.
The rest of the night belonged to the Warriors.
Tate Popple would score to eventual game winner shorthanded 5:42 into the second, with Hayes adding his second and Ryder Korzak also scoring before the period was out to put the Warriors ahead 5-2. Popple then closed out scoring and capped a night filled with chances for the 19-year-old forward with 6:14 to play.
Lang would finish with three assists to go along with his goal, while Hunt added a pair of helpers.
Goaltender Brock Gould turned aside 26 shots to earn the win, but drew more interest out of his third period fight with Isaac Poulter, an altercation that came out of a mini line brawl with seven minutes gone in the third. Boston Bilous would close out the game with two saves in the remaining 12:10, the Warriors had 38 shots on Poulter and Isaiah DiLaura.
Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary was happy to see his troops snap their losing skid, especially coming off their U.S. road swing while the Scotties Tournament of Hearts took over Mosaic Place last week.
“I think the guys deserve one, but they earned it,” O’Leary said. “It’s one thing to win a game, but I don’t think it was a lucky one by any means. I know we got behind early on, but we stuck with it and everybody did their job tonight. They played honest, they played on the right side of the puck and they deserved this one.”
Seeing the team put together that performance and bring all the flashes of brilliance of the last few months together for one night is ideally a sign of things to come.
“That’s the big picture and that’s what we’re concentrating on,” O’Leary said. “With 12 games left, it’s looking into the future for sure. You don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re excited about what we have here, not just with the play on the ice, but as good people. When they’re 18, 19-years-old they’re going to be a lot of fun to watch.”
The Warriors are back in action tonight when they travel to Swift Current for the rematch, with next home action Friday, Mar. 6 when they host the Winnipeg Ice.