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Warriors dominate, fall in overtime to Swift Current

The Moose Jaw Warriors carried the play to a ridiculous extent but still ended up dropping a 4-3 decision to the Swift Current Broncos.
The old saying might be something along the line of 'everyone has nights like this' but not even Moose Jaw Warriors assistant coach Mark O'Leary had seen anything like what his team went through on Thursday night (Dec. 27) against the Swift Current Broncos.
 
You don't dominate a Western Hockey League game so thoroughly and not come out with win pretty much every night.
 
But in the end – and in spite of another late game rally – a broken stick in overtime saw to it that the Warriors would drop a 4-3 OT decision to the Broncos in a game that really, actually should have brought the Tribe another point in the standings.
 
The Warriors fell to 17-8-5-1 with the loss and sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of Red Deer, Lethbridge and Edmonton.
 
“I can't remember one that was that slanted, zone time especially,” said O'Leary, who is filling in as bench boss as Warriors head coach Tim Hunter is with Team Canada at the World Juniors. “We spent the whole time in their end and we just can't bang it over the goal line. There were times it was just sitting there in the crease with an open cage and we just tried to tap it in, you can't do that with a goalie who's never really out of it. So we might have had the zone time but we still have to bear down and score.”
 
That goalie was perennial thorn-in-the-Warriors'-side Joel Hofer, who was utterly beleaguered at times but kept his team in the proceedings. Hofer ended up with 39 saves, including 20 in the second period alone.
 
“We deserve better,” said Warriors forward Brayden Tracey, the game's first star. “Their goalie played an excellent game and we have to bear down more in and around the net and the results will come... we just have to work a little harder around the net.”
 
Interestingly enough, Moose Jaw never led in the contest – Carter Chorney gave Swift Current a 1-0 lead 13:35 into the second before Jett Woo tied the game with just over two minutes left in the frame.
 
That set the stage for yet another slate of late-game dramatics as Swift Current's Matthew Culling capped a 3-on-2 break to give his team a 2-1 lead with 5:31 remaining. A turnover in the zone then allowed Matthew Stanley to score for the Broncos with just over two minutes on the clock, and all of a sudden it was 3-1 Swift Current.
 
As has been the case so many times this season, cue the comeback.
 
Tracey capped off a furious slew of chances with his 11th of the season with 1:09 to play, followed 22 seconds later by Keenan Taphorn with the tying goal, forcing overtime.
 
There, Warriors forward Daniil Stepanov broke his stick attempting to move the puck up the boards and had to scramble for a replacement, leading to a 2-on-1 that ended with the Broncos' Alex Moar scoring 1:58 into the extra frame.
 
O'Leary hoped the team would learn from the experience and take those lessons into the rematch of the home-and-home contest the next night.
 
“We showed a little bit of rust in our touch around the net after the time off from Christmas but I'm really happy with the effort,” he said. “We got right into the swing of things but at the end of the day didn't capitalize. We just have to trust the process and keep playing our game and the results will come like they have.”
 
The Warriors were also back in action Saturday and Sunday for a home-and-home with Brandon, with scores unavailable as of press time.
 
Next action for the Tribe is Jan. 4 when they travel to Prince Albert to face the Raiders; next home action is Jan. 5 against the Portland Winterhawks.