The wait is over for the Moose Jaw U18 AA Warriors, as they snapped a 32-game losing streak on Tuesday night beating the Notre Dame Hounds 7-4 in front of a packed house at the Pla-Mor Palace.
Tuesday’s win was even sweeter, as it gave them their first win of the season in their final home game of the year.
Moose Jaw faced much adversity on Tuesday night, as they were able to come back from two, two-goal deficits to pick up the win.
Head coach, Mike Russel couldn’t be any happier with his team's performance on Tuesday.
“I’m over the moon with it. It’s been a tough year and we know that,” says Russel. “We play in a very tough league. The boys could’ve easily gotten dejected but we had long talks and they came in and said let's put everything behind us and fire on all four cylinders.”
Leading the way for the Warriors on Tuesday was their captain Ashton Glova, Evan Fisher, and Nolan Kearns who all had three-point nights. Glova finished with a goal and an assist, Fisher two goals and one assist, and Kearns had three assists on Tuesday.
Casson Silbernagel made 34 saves for his first win of the season.
Russel says in large part, their success came from their leadership group being very vocal in the dressing room and on the ice.
“I’m very proud of all of them. Those boys could’ve folded their tents and packed it in, but that’s not how we’ve rolled all season and that’s what we’ve tried to instill in them. We’ve overcome so much adversity this season. Every one of those boys contributed in a way so it was a win for everyone.”
The Warriors were able to battle back twice being down two goals and then exploded for three unanswered goals in the third period and never looked back.
Heading into the second intermission tied 4-4, Moose Jaw could feel their first win of the season.
“That win was right out to take. One thing I said was this is our last home game of the season lay it all on the line and leave everything you have on the ice tonight. Go out there and play for yourself, play for the crest, and play for the brothers around you.”
And playing for themselves, the crest, and their teammates is exactly what they did in the third period. Deklan Gillis got the game-winning goal 2:53 into the final frame for his first of the season, which was followed up by two goals by Evan Fisher.
That game-winning goal was inspired by a conversation had on the bench between Gillis and Russel.
“We were sitting on the bench and one of our 15-year-olds I looked at him in the third period and I said do you have a GWG in there and he said what. I then said you’re going to get the game-winning goal, let’s do it. The very next shift he went out and scored that game-winning goal.”
The community came out in full force to cheer on the U18 AA Warriors, as it was a full barn at the Pla-Mor Palace. Parents, fans, and other hockey teams packed that rink and made it a memorable experience for the players.
To that community support, Russel explained that the Moose Jaw WINMAR AAA Warriors were in the crowd cheering on the hometown team.
“They were so vocal and had that barn just rocking. All in a good positive way, banging on the glass, cheering for the boys, and were in the tunnel giving high-fives when the boys came out. This is attributed to what Trevor Weisgerber is doing with his group. To have them there and showing their support was huge for us coming through with that win.”
Though the playoffs are out of the question for the Warriors, the team does still have a lot to play for. They wrap up their regular season schedule this weekend with a three-game road swing in Yorkton and Melville.
Moose Jaw will open things up in Yorkton on Friday night at 7:30, then play the Terriers again on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. On Sunday, the Warriors will be in Melville taking on the Millionaires at 5:15 p.m.