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Three-goal second period sees Warriors take win over Kamloops

Riche, Korczak, Yager score in middle frame as Moose Jaw goes on to 3-2 win in second game of B.C. Division road swing
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The Moose Jaw Warriors are among many teams hoping to be playing in Kamloops at the end of May, and they’ll also be hoping to see the same kind of result as they had Friday night should that happen.

The Warriors built a 3-0 lead on the Memorial Cup host Blazers before holding off a furious third-period comeback and taking a 3-2 victory in Western Hockey League action.

Moose Jaw improved to 14-9-0-0 with the win and continue to hold down fourth place in the Eastern Conference, now two points back of the Saskatoon Blades and a point up on the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Warriors didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, as Kamloops were able to get carry the play in the middle of the frame thanks to back-to-back Moose Jaw penalties. That led to the Blazers outshooting Moose Jaw 11-1 at one point, but as per usual, Connor Ungar was able to hold the fort, eventually finishing with 15 saves in the first period.

The Warriors had a handful of chances late in the opening 20 minutes, including a pair of solid scoring opportunities off the stick of Lynden Lakovic, who had a host of family and friends in the building in his first WHL game in his home province.

Moose Jaw was able to get on the board 3:30 into the second period, taking advantage of their second power play of the game in the process. The Warriors moved the puck around the zone effectively, leading to Max Wanner finding space and time in the right face-off circle, putting a shot on net and having Ben Riche tip the puck past Blazers netminder Michael Schnattinger.

Ryder Korczak took advantage of a two-man advantage two minutes later, taking a feed to the side of the net from Jagger Firkus and tapping the puck home. The goal was the sixth point in four games for Korczak since returning from AHL Hartford, and the assist extended Firkus’ point streak to 16 games, the second longest ongoing run in the WHL.

Brayden Yager made it a 3-0 lead with 6:06 remaining in the second, with Martin Rysavy forcing a turnover at the top of the slot and having the puck go right to Yager, who went in with some nifty stickhandlng before lifting a backhand high blocker side.

All told, the second period was almost the exact opposite of their showing 24 hours earlier in Prince George, as the Warriors carried the play much of the frame and would end up outshooting the Blazers 19-9.

That set the stage for the third period and the Kamloops surge.

Blazers captain Logan Stankoven broke Ungar’s shutout bid 43 seconds into the final period, immediately after a late second-period Warriors penalty expired.

Kamloops then pulled within a goal at 7:37 when Daylan Kuefler finished off a turnover in the Warriors zone by tucking the puck around Ungar and just over the goal line.

The Blazers kept up the pressure as the period progressed and created a handful of goalmouth scrambles in the final minutes but couldn’t find the tying goal.

Ungar finished with 36 saves, the Warriors fired 29 at Schnattinger.

Moose Jaw takes the ice for the third game of their seven-games-in-14-days road trip on Saturday night when they travel to Kelowna to face the Rockets. Puck drop is 9 p.m. Moose Jaw time.

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