The Moose Jaw WINMAR Warriors got off to exactly the kind of start they were hoping for on Thursday night against the Regina Pat Canadians at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
Unfortunately for the local crew, the rest of the game didn’t go quite as well.
Jonah Pinel opened scoring for the Warriors with 7:57 gone in the opening frame, but the Pat Canadians would respond with three straight goals and go on to a 5-2 victory in Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey league action.
The Warriors fell back to .500 at 18-18-3-0 with the loss but remain tied for sixth place with Estevan, a point up on eighth-place Tisdale and four points ahead of Battlefords. Fifth-place Prince Albert is well clear of the playoff spot logjam with 46 points.
Pinel’s goal was the product of some hard work down low by Noah Thul, who outduelled a pair of Regina defenders at the side of the net before getting a shot off in close on Taylor Tabashniuk, with the puck squeaking free for the poke-in by Pinel.
The lead didn’t last more than two minutes, as Jonah Sivertson scored at the 8:50 mark to tie the game. Regina then had goals from Brodie Hicks and Ryan McDonald in the final 1:20 of the period to lead 3-1 after the opening frame.
Casey Brown then scored for Regina with 2:32 to play in the second to make it a 4-1 game.
Brennan Brown got one back for the Warriors with a power play goal at 7:00 of the fhird, but that would be as close as Moose Jaw would get, as Sivertson scored his second of the game into the empty net with 2:53 to play.
Ryan Bain faced 35 shots in taking the loss, while Tabashniuk stopped 28 to earn the win.
Regina improved to 28-10-1-0 and took over first place in the SMAAAHL with the win, two points up on the Saskatoon Blazers.
Things now get down to the nitty gritty for the WINMAR Warriors with five games remaining in the regular season. Moose Jaw is back in action against the 10th-place Saskatoon Contacts on Tuesday, Feb. 13 in Saskatoon, with the Contacts sitting five points back of the Warriors.
Moose Jaw will then have a crucial two game weekend set on Feb. 17 and 18 in Estevan before wrapping up the regular season on Feb. 24 and 25 against the last-place Maulers in Yorkton.
Keep an eye on www.smaaaahl.com for up-to-date scores and standings.