The Moose Jaw WINMAR Warriors had their eyes set on getting off to a fast start to open the Sask Male AAA Hockey League season this past weekend, and that’s exactly what happened.
The Warriors took a 6-2 win over the Battlefords Stars in their season opener on Friday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre and followed with a 5-4 win in the rematch Sunday, giving the local squad a 2-0 record to start the campaign.
The second win wasn’t without its drama, though, as Battlefords overcame a three-goal deficit with four second-period goals, leading to the Warriors needing a late goal to secure the win.
Dylan Duzan did the honours and it was a beauty to boot, as he put a hard-angle shot from just above the goal line under the crossbar with 3:55 to play in the game.
A positive result, but one head coach Trevor Weisgerber would liked to have been a little less stressful.
“Obviously we got off to a good start and got pretty comfortable there, then gave up a couple and it ended up being a pretty tight game from there on,” he said. “It’s early, there will be mistakes and as long as we’re learning from it that’s important. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s all good and we’re super happy with the four points.”
The Warriors took a 3-0 lead out of the first period of Saturday’s game on goals from Jake Britlz, Kanyan Unger and Cooper Buhay.
Waylon Gardipy and Tao Flory scored for Battlefords early in the second, and after Brennan Brown gave Moose Jaw a 4-2 lead, Dayne Henry and Linken Fisher potted markers for the Stars to tie the game 4-4.
Luke McKechnie had 22 saves to earn the win.
Things were close through the first two periods of the season opener, with Moose Jaw leading 2-1 after the first and 3-2 through two. They’d add three unanswered in the final period, though, taking their comfortable-looking win.
Keaton Lesperance had a pair of goals for the Warriors, while Bryce Boughen, Chase Petersen, Gage Nagel and Ryan Gibbs had their other markers. Brown picked up a pair of assists.
McKechnie had 26 saves for the victory.
As well as things went for the Warriors in their first two games, Weisgerber was able to quickly identify some areas that need work.
“Defensively we have to do a better job, just coming back into our zone and tracking pucks and coming back to the house,” he said. “There are lot of things off the rush we need to work on, too, where guys need to be aware of where they’re at on the ice and guys they need to pick up.”
One thing that isn’t a concern is their offence, which at times was hard to come by last season.
“So far, so good,” Weisgerber said. “In exhibition season we seemed to be able to put it in the net, then these last two games as well we’ve had some success. Guys are going to the net hard and getting some greasy ones and some nice ones. It’s always good when you’re scoring goals but we have to make sure we’re doing the job in our end as well.”
Now it’s a matter of getting back on the ice for a week of practice leading up to next weekend when the Warriors host the Swift Current Legionnaires at the Southland Co-Op Centre in Assiniboia.
“Just the way the schedule works, with five days of practice it’ll be good to work on some stuff,” Weisgrber said. “Then we have the game in Assiniboia against Swift and that should be exciting for the guys.”
Next WINMAR Warriors action at the Moose Jaw Events Centre is Friday, Oct. 6 when they host the Prince Albert Mintos. Game time is 7 p.m.