The Moose Jaw Warriors have shown through the first half of the season that they aren't the kind of team that's going to take a loss lying down.
The local squad hasn't had many back-to-back losses this season, as every defeat seems to be followed by the kind of effort that makes them that much tougher to get past.
The Regina Pats were the latest team to see that reaction, as they took a 2-1 victory over the Warriors at the Brandt Centre on Friday night, only to absorb a 6-3 defeat 24 hours later at Mosaic Place.
“I was real proud of the guys, I thought it was a perfect response and I think we felt in the dressing room and as a coaching staff that we'd have a bounce back effort here,” said Warriors assistant coach Mark O'Leary, who is taking over head coaching duties while Tim Hunter leads Team Canada at the World Juniors. “We've been a resilient bunch all season long and it was no different tonight. I think it was led by our leaders with Meids (Justin Almeida) and Langer (Tristin Langan) having big nights and we got the saves when we needed them... We stuck with the plan, it was a sloppy game at times but we were able stick to the plan and get the job done.”
Langan – celebrating his 20th birthday on the night – first scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal 1:10 into the contest and didn't let up from there, scoring three times and adding an assist. Almeida, meanwhile, was all but unstoppable, scoring twice and picking up four assists. The six-point night was the best outing of his career.
“I think it was huge,” O'Leary said of the duo's effort. “They felt it last night, they were pressing in Regina and wanted to make a difference but it was just one of those games. I knew right away when they walked in the dressing room this morning that it would be a different game tonight. You don't always know the outcome, but if you can have guys engaged like they were tonight you give yourself a pretty good chance.”
For his part, Langan – now fourth in Western Hockey League scoring with 24 goals and 54 points – was more than happy have a better game offensively than the night prior.
“I think we just came out moving our feet a lot more, we had more bounce than we had in Regina and were able to come out playing well right away,” he said. “Everyone played a lot better tonight than they did in Regina and it showed.”
After putting together the kind of first half most players would dream about, Langan will be looking for more of the same in the new year not only from himself but from the entire team.
“I think our line is clicking really well and we just have to keep it up in the second half... I think the second half is always a bit harder, you have to come in and stay focused and come back and keep doing my job,” Langan said.
Dalton Hamaliuk scored the Warriors' other goal, while Jett Woo, Brayden Tracey and Keenan Taphorn had two assists each. Brodan Salmond had an outstanding night in net, making 23 saves.
Robbie Holmes scored twice for Regina; Austin Pratt had their other goal. The Warriors fired 26 shots at Pats starter Dean McNabb and third-period replacement Max Paddock.
One night earlier in Regina, Riley Krane and Steven Zonneveld each scored in the second period and the Pats held on for the narrow win.
Kaeden Taphorn scored the lone goal for Moose Jaw and Adam Evanoff made 16 saves in goal.
The Warriors capped the first half with a 17-8-4-1 record, good enough for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point back of Edmonton and Lethbridge and three back of third-place Red Deer.
The Warriors are back in action Thursday, Dec. 27 when they host the Swift Current Broncos.