The Moose Jaw Warriors used discipline and good team defence to propel them to three straight wins this past weekend.
Friday night, a great Josh Brook solo rush to start overtime allowed the Warriors to hand the Brandon Wheat Kings their first loss of the season by a 3-2 score. A night later, the Warriors built a lead against the winless Swift Current Broncos and managed to hang on for a 5-4 win.
The Warriors (3-2-1-0) have points in four straight games.
They began the week by settling their overage situation by dealing defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus to the Saskatoon Blades. Schuldhaus was tremendous late-season acquisition a year ago. He provided size and physicality, but also had eight goals and 15 points in 27 games to provide some unexpected production.
The Warriors had given up two second round picks and defenceman Colin Paradis to acquire Schuldhaus and a fourth round pick in 2020. They were able to recoup one of the second round picks in the deal with the Blades, acquiring their 2020 second round pick and a fifth round pick in 2019 from the Blades.
That leaves the Warriors with goalie Brodan Salmond, defenceman Dalton Hamaliuk and forward Tristin Langan as their 20-year-olds. The Warriors also released 19-year-old winger Tristyn DeRoose who played 47 games with the team a year ago.
The Warriors welcomed back Jett Woo — who came back to the team with an injury after attending rookie camp with the Vancouver Canucks — and he made an immediate impact paired with Hamaliuk. The duo were a thorn in the Wheat Kings side all night Friday and Brook and Daemon Hunt stymied the Wheat Kings’ potent attack.
The Warriors were able to limit Brandon to 22 shots and few quality scoring chances.
They opened the scoring when Langan was denied twice in close and laid the puck off to Justin Almeida at the side of the net for a power play marker.
Stelio Mattheos tied the game for Brandon with a rocket right to the top corner and over Salmond’s blocker off of the rush.
After a scoreless second, Brook sent a pass from in front of his own net to the Wheat Kings’ blue line to spring Daniil Stepanov for a breakaway. The Belarussian rookie put his shot off the post and in to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
Mattheos scored his fourth of the year when he picked the exact same corner to beat Salmond for a power play goal.
In overtime, Langan won the opening draw back to Brook who circled in his own zone before managing to beat former Warrior Luka Burzan wide and tuck the puck between Jiri Patera’s pads to end the game after 14 seconds.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) October 6, 2018
A night later Langan scored a natural hat trick to stake the Warriors to a 4-1 third-period lead, but a resolute Broncos team wasn’t going to go quietly.
The Warriors opened the scoring thanks to Brecon Wood’s first of the season. Jesse Mistelbacher picked up his first WHL point on the goal.
Alec Zawatsky continued his good start to the season to tie the game for Swift Current before Langan scored with a second left in the first period to seize the momentum.
Langan scored in the second and early in the third to give him five goals on the season. He finished the night with four points. Langan, a former ninth-round bantam pick, is eighth in league scoring with 12 points at this early stage of the season.
Connor Horning scored a power-play goal for the Broncos before Ryan Peckford restored the Warriors’ three-goal lead with his first of the season 47 seconds later.
Swift Current was undeterred as Ethan Regnier and Max Patterson both scored to cut the lead to one with three minutes left.
Adam Evanoff shut the door and finished with 22 saves. Joel Hofer turned away 35 shots for the Broncos.
While the Warriors gave up a power play goal in each game, they have the fewest penalty minutes in the league and are tied with Tri-City with only 16 power plays surrendered, though the Americans have played two fewer games than the Warriors.