Keith Hershmiller

Warriors resilient in loss to ICE

REGINA – Moose Jaw Warriors’ (8-11-2) head coach Mark O’Leary has consistently mentioned during the Hub season that the establishment of ‘their standards’ are more important than results, and than the standings.

That his young group found a way to rally and even get to overtime in order to lose 6-5, after two of the first three Winnipeg ICE (15-5-1) shots went in, and three different leads were lost, demonstrated a step in establishing that ‘standard’: that to give up amidst adversity is unacceptable.

“It was a point earned (not a point lost),” said O’Leary post-game.

“Any point you can get against a really good team like that is hard to come by. To look at this game as anything other than a positive is a miss; I think our group played really well tonight. We spotted them two, but our guys really responded in the right way. (Our team) didn’t change its work ethic, their compete from to finish, and they did what they needed to do tonight. I really like the progress of our team tonight.”

Jakin Smallwod’s deflection of an Anson McMaster point shot 1:08 into the contest, and Skyler Bruce’s snipe from the middle of the slot under six minutes later put the Warriors down two in the blink of an eye.

Yet Moose Jaw veteran Riley Krane, playing in his 150th career Western Hockey League game, and his Warriors demonstrated that heightened level of will O’Leary and his staff have been hoping to see on a consistent basis.

Krane got the comeback going at the 12:59-mark of the opening frame, stuffing home a rebound from the doorstep off a Brayden Yager wrister; and then he added a helper on the tying goal with just over a minute left in the first when Cade Hayes whipped a wicked shot from the high slot over an unsighted Carl Stankowski in the ICE net on a Moose Jaw power play.

“We talk about Kraner all the time, about how he plays to the Moose Jaw Warrior D.N.A.” O’Leary said.

“His net-front presence, his work along the walls, his willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates…anytime those guys get rewarded with some points is a huge positive.”

The 20-year-old Krane then completed the ‘Gordie Howe hat trick’ (a goal, an assist, and a fight in one game) at 5:47 of the middle frame when he fought McMaster.

Jagger Firkus gave the Warriors their first lead of the game on another power play at the 13:28-mark, and then after a long Peyton Krebs wrister tied the contest 2:30 into the third, a well-worked Warriors move two-and-a-half minutes later led to a patented snapper off the stick of Daemon Hunt that beat Stankowski clean to get that lead right back.

The see-saw-battle continued under two minutes later when Bruce jammed his second of the game into an empty net after Boston Bilous over-slid while reacting to a difficult bounce off a point shot from Karter Prosofsky.

As the clock hit 10:00, the scoreboard read 4-4, and nobody could predict in which direction the game was heading.

Moose Jaw’s Hayes demonstrated some of that tantalizing skill he is capable of at the 14:38-mark of the third period, dancing around a Winnipeg defender down the left-wing, rounding Stankowski, and slipping the Warriors’ fifth of the game, and his second of the contest, into the gaping cage.

A soft Krebs shot from the half wall with the Winnipeg net empty tied the game at 18:48, and then Smallwood notched his second of the game with a beautiful finish in overtime ended the wild affair.

The Warriors allowed another two power-play goals on the contest, and have given up five on their last seven times shorthanded to the ICE.

Bilous’ save percentage in six appearances on the campaign vs. Manitoba-based clubs will finish at .681 through five games.

Moose Jaw has three contests remaining in the campaign, with the final Trans-Canada Clash vs. the Regina Pats up next on Friday night.

 

 

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    Jamie Neugebauer
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    REGINA – Moose Jaw Warriors’ (8-11-2) head coach Mark O’Leary has consistently mentioned during the Hub season that the establishment of ‘their standa
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