One down 43 more to go for the Moose Jaw Winmar AAA Warriors!
If you were at the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Friday night, then you were treated to one great hockey game, the Moose Jaw Winmar AAA Warriors skated to a 4-3 win over the Battleford Stars to start the season.
Rookie Dylan Duzan scored the game-winner for the Warriors early in the third period on an individual play that saw him burst off the goal line and backhanded it under the arm of Stars goalie Matthew Ofukany.
“It’s pretty special to get the first one under the belt,” Duzan says after the game. “It all happened so fast with the puck in deep and drove it to the net and snuck it in.”
He adds that he put in a lot of work throughout the summer to help propel himself into this league.
“I worked out in Caronport in the gym and on the ice five days a week, and then in the gym here (Moose Jaw Events Centre) working on the little things.”
Things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows for either team, as in the first ten minutes of the game, each club couldn’t get much going.
Good fortunes came to Moose Jaw with just over eight minutes left in the first period, as the Stars Ryder Ellis took a charging penalty, putting the Warriors on their first powerplay of the game.
Moose Jaw made quick work of their powerplay. After a clean faceoff win by Connor Miller came back to Caleb Potter, and a floater from the blueline went right under the blocker of Ofukany and found twine for the 1-0 lead, just four seconds into the man advantage.
With about six minutes left in the first period, the Warriors would extend their lead. Good board play by Miller would free the puck up to Liam Fitzpatrick, and with space roofed it over the shoulder of Ofukany to make it 2-0 Moose Jaw.
North Battleford would finally beat Moose Jaw netminder Ryan Bain on the powerplay. Kaden Veller would rifle one over the shoulder of Bain and find the left corner to end the period only trailing 2-1.
The shots on goal would favour Moose Jaw leading 11-6 after one period.
The second period went back and forth throughout most of the frame, with both teams trading chances but no goals. Then at the 4:33 mark, Austin Shepard would bang home his first of the year, off an odd-man rush that slid under the pad of Bain to tie the game 2-2.
Two minutes later Moose Jaw’s Rhett Perrin would capitalize on an odd-man rush of their own. Bryce Boughen would fire one on the net, and a streaking Perrin would bang home the rebound for his first in Warrior uniform to take the lead back 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
After 40 minutes Moose Jaw led in the shot department 25-18.
Duzan’s goal would play key early in the third period to extend the lead and score the eventual game-winner.
North Battleford’s Rylen LeRoux would get his team within one with just over eight minutes left in the game, but that’s as close as they got losing 4-3.
Bain would stop 24 of 27 shots for his first win of the season, while Ofukany made 32 saves in the loss.
The Warriors finished the game 1-2 on the powerplay, while the Stars left Friday’s game going 1-5 with the extra man.
Moose Jaw’s Ryder Knutson logged some big minutes on the blueline for the Warriors in the win. Knutson was named the team’s captain earlier this week.
“We have a great leadership group so it was honour being named team captain,” says Knutson.
These two teams will finish off their two-game series on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Knutson noted following the game that there are some things to improve on heading into Saturday’s game.
“Our d-zone for sure, we need to work on that first pass out of the zone but besides that, it was great for our first game.”
Tickets can be bought at Sasktik.ca, or at the Moose Jaw Events Centre box office. Those not able to attend will be able to catch the game on IKSLive.ca