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Warriors take pre-season home-and-home sweep over Broncos

Moose Jaw scores pair in first, go on to 5-2 victory at Mosaic Place Saturday after 6-1 win in Swift Current Friday
Warriors SC preseason Firkus
Jagger Firkus eludes a Liam Saxberg hip check during a rush up ice.
So far so good for the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League pre-season.

The Warriors improved to 3-0 through their exhibition schedule with a pair of wins over the Swift Current Broncos this past weekend, taking a 6-1 victory on Friday in Swift Current and following with a 5-2 win in the rematch Saturday at Mosaic Place.

It’s as good a start to the first part of the campaign as the team could have hoped, and even though they faced a bit more adversity than they had in previous wins, it was all still a positive look at a time of the season where that can be all-important.

“I think it was just another experience for the guys,” said Warriors head coach Mark O'Leary. “Our theme coming in was circumstances don’t change the standards, so there are certain things we’re always talking about. I know the guys looked a little bit tired here, they’ve worked hard the last couple of weeks with no real time off, so it was a good opportunity to realize this league is hard sometimes and finding a way to win even when it’s not pretty is a good experience.”

On Saturday, the Warriors had goals from Tate Schofer and Max Wanner in the first period before Robert Baco extended their lead to 3-0 with his third of the pre-season midway through the second.

Raphael Pelletier and Josh Filmon scored power-play markers in the third to make things interesting, but Brayden Yager and Calder Anderson added insurance markers in the final six minutes to close out the three-goal win.

If there was one area of concern, it was the number of penalties the team took, with the Warriors having five minors and a late-game major to the Broncos’ single penalty on the night.

“(Assistant coach) Gord (Burnett)  will be happy, there are lots of video clips to work on,” O’Leary said jokingly. “But at the end of the day I think a lot of those were a bit of fatigue and lazy penalties we hope to rid ourselves of early on. They’re all experiences and we have to be able to go through them to be able to coach through them as well.”

Warriors SC preseason Tetachuk
Warriors goaltender Carl Tetachuk turns aside a shot during second period action. By Randy Palmer

Yager’s goal was his first of the pre-season and came after a host of chances for his line throughout the game.

“It’s been really good,” he said of the showing. “Our line was fighting the puck earlier but we had a ton of shots and it was good to get one. Once you get one hopefully it gets the ball rolling and we can keep it going.”

Seeing the team get off to the kind of start they’ve had so far and establish their identity early on has been a positive sign for the 16-year-old second-year veteran.

“We’ve always been a kind of compete, hard work and get the bounces to go your way kind of team, so hopefully we can keep working hard and stick to our game,” Yager said.

Carl Tetachuk made 22 saves to earn the win in goal for Moose Jaw, while the Warriors had 36 shots on the Broncos’ Jacob Herman.

Friday, the Warrors had two goals apiece from Kade Runke and Nathan Pilling to go along with single markers from Cade Hayes and Robert Baco. Matthew Gallant and Ben Riche had two assists each; Brett Mirwald stopped 15 shots to earn the win.

Even with the solid start, O’Leary will be looking for more hard work in the week ahead, especially knowing that Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats wait in the wings next weekend.

“We’ll have to certainly have a great week of practice here, we know it’ll be a different game against Regina, they’re a bigger team that makes you earn every inch of ice,” O’Leary said. “I don’t know what our line-up will look like just yet with guys back from NHL camps, but the line-up we have is more than capable and we’ll get things going the right way here before Friday.”

The Warriors will host the Pats on Friday at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place before returning to the site of the East Division Hub for the rematch on Saturday at the Brandt Centre.

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