Winnipeg, MB — The Moose Jaw Warriors got the start that they were looking for, but couldn’t carry that momentum through for 60 minutes on Saturday night.
Winnipeg scored five unanswered goals, two into an empty net, to knock off Moose Jaw, 5-2, in Game 5 at the Wayne Fleming Arena.
The Warriors now trail the ICE 3-2 in the best-of-seven second round series.
“We had a pretty good start, getting a 2-0 lead in the first and then we didn’t really follow it up,” Warriors forward Brayden Yager said. “It sucks to lose this one, but I know we’ll bounce back on Monday.”
Yager and Jagger Firkus finished with a goal and two points each in the loss.
Yager and Firkus struck for goals in the first period for the Warriors as they built up a 2-0 lead, but the ICE pushed back hard in the second frame, tying the game heading into the third.
“We were doing a good job there, Brayden Yager and Jagger Firkus have been playing very well throughout the playoffs and they get us up by two, but we couldn’t generate any more and couldn’t hold on,” Warriors assistant coach Gord Burnett said.
The game tightened up in the third period with chances at both ends of the ice, but Winnipeg broke the game open when Matthew Savoie scored the eventual game-winning goal with 4:57 to play.
“I thought we needed to get more pucks to the net in the last two periods, we had them on their heels a little bit,” Yager said. “Especially on the road, just throwing pucks on net and hoping to back one in.”
Conor Geekie got Winnipeg on the board just 2:27 into the second period and then tied the game just under ten minutes later.
Warriors goalie Connor Ungar made two game-saving stops during the second period to ensure the game went into the third tied. Ungar finished with 34 saves in the loss.
“He stands on his head every game and it’s fun to watch,” Yager said. “We have a lot of trust in him, the amount of times he bails us out, he’s been playing so well and he’s done that all year.”
The Warriors will now be playing to extend their season in Game 6 on Monday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
Yager said the Warriors remain confident coming back home.
“We’ve won two in a row against these guys before, it’s a little setback, but we’re going to come out flying and not let this loss put us down,” he said.
“The first is home ice and trying to use our fans to our advantage in our home barn.”
Burnett said the Warriors know what’s at stake going into Monday.
“It’s an elimination game, there’s nothing you need to say before,” he said. “We’ll be at home, in front of our own fans, we play a little better in our own rink, our guys will be ready.”
The Warriors and ICE face-off at 7 p.m. on Monday in Moose Jaw.