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Warriors rally late but can’t pick up win over Saskatoon

Moose Jaw scores twice in third period to tie game, but special teams the differencein 4-3 loss to Blades
The Moose Jaw Warriors once again showed they’re right there with the top teams in the Eastern Conference with their showing against the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night.

The key now will be to prove it once and for all by picked up wins in those close contests.

The Warriors overcame a 3-1 deficit with a pair of goals just over a minute apart in the third period, but the Blades would net the game winner shortly after the tying marker and go on to a 4-3 win at Mosaic Place.

The difference this time around was special teams -- while the Warriors carried the play much of the night when both clubs were at full strength, their power play failed to score on five opportunities. Saskatoon, meanwhile, was good on three of four.

“I thought five-on-five we were the better team, for sure, and we only gave up 20 shots,” said Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary. “At the end of the day, when you give up 20 shots, you expect to win the game. So I’m not upset about our effort at all. Obviously the power play could have helped us out and it didn’t and on the penalty kill, we gave up too many. I thought we still did a pretty good job keeping the shots to the outside, now we just have to find a way to limit the opportunities.”

The power play will be one thing the team will be spending time on in practice in the coming days, with the goal of finding a way to break through their ongoing struggles: other than two goals on a late-game five minute major against Prince Albert on Oct. 13, the Warriors haven’t scored on the man-advantage in their last 14 chances.

“We had some really good looks and at the end of the day it’s capitalizing on those opportunities and we didn’t do that,” O’Leary said. “There’s lots of things that can be done, we have two days of practice here before we see Winnipeg and we’ll have some different looks by then.”

The Warriors opened scoring 2:25 into the contest shortly after taking the first penalty of the night, and it was a doozy -- forward Ryder Korczak carried the puck out of his own zone and went in one-on-four before finding a bit of open space and roofing a shot past Ethan Chadwick.

The Blades would make that power play count, though, as Tristen Robins scored an unassisted marker at 3:36, just over a minute after Korczak’s goal,

Saskatoon then made the Warriors pay for a bench minor with 3:34 to play in the period, with Mortiz Elias finishing off a slick passing play with a quick shot from the left face-off circle that beat Warriors netminder Brett Mirwald high.

Saskatoon’s power play struck for the third time with just over five minutes remaining in the second, this time when Kyle Crnkovic found himself with plenty of space and time and put a shot home top corner.

Jagger Firkus got the Warriors back within one with just over eight minutes to play, jumping on a puck that went high off the glass and knocking home a shot from the side of the net.

just over a minute later Cade Hayes tied things up, finishing off a series of chances by beating Chadwick with a shot from the slot.

The draw wouldn’t last, though, as Egor Sidorov tipped a shot from the boards by Robins through MIrwald’s pads to give Saskatoon a 4-3 edge with 5:40 remaining in the game.

The Warriors once again had a host of chances late but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Seeing the team coming out of games where they’ve carried the play naturally isn’t sitting well, and the Warriors will be looking for better results in the near future.

“Absolutely it’s frustrating,” O’Leary said. “We’re 3-3 right now and we don’t want to be, we feel like we’re a better team than that, but at the end of the day whatever the record says you are, that’s where you slot in the standings. So we’re certainly not close to being satisfied 

with where we are right now, we need to be better and that’s right through the line-up.”

Mirwald finished the game with 15 saves, the Warriors fired 28 shots at Chadwick.

Daemon Hunt added two assists to round out scoring.

Next home action for the Warriors is on Saturday, Oct. 23 when the aforementioned Ice (6-0-0-0) make their first trip to Moose Jaw. Game time is 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place.