Over the past two weeks, the Moose Jaw Warriors have seen their special teams contribute in a big way to their four wins in six games over that span.
The Warriors have had at least one power play goal or shorthanded goal in all but one of the past six games as their special teams units have continued to improve over the course of the season.
In Tuesday’s 7-4 win over the Victoria Royals at Mosaic Place, the Warriors scored one power play on three chances, while going 4-for-5 on the penalty kill, including killing off 1:23 of a 5-on-3 and scoring a shorthanded goal for the third time in the past six games.
Forward Brayden Burke said that the Warriors were able to gain a lot of momentum from that big kill in the second period on Tuesday.
“When you go down two guys like that, especially after they had just recently scored a power play goal, they also had one goal lead, so it was nice to get the kill and then go get a power play goal right after that,” said Burke. “It was kind of like a two-goal swing for us, so it was nice.”
The power play is the area of the game that the Warriors have shown the biggest improvement this season. They struggled early in the year, but have found a groove since returning from their U.S. Division road trip.
Moose Jaw’s power play is now ranked sixth in the Western Hockey League at 26.3 percent. It’s even better at home, moving up to fifth in the league at 28.6 percent.
Burke said they made a few adjustments and its paid off, “Pucks have been moving a bit quicker and we’ve got a set 4-5 guys that we’ve had out there consistently, so you know where guys are going to be and how they’re going to play out there, but we’ve been moving it quick and seems have been opening up easier, so it’s been nice,” he said.
The Warriors’ leading scorer has been a key part of the power play’s success as the unit runs through Burke with his playmaking ability helping to open up those lanes.
Burke said he feels comfortable at the top of the power play and distributing the puck.
“I was down low (at the start of the year), didn’t get as many touches, so got up to the top, got more touches and got my feet moving and seems opened up,” said Burke. “The power play has been doing well and hopefully it can continue.”
Burke is currently second in the WHL with 37 assists this season, 16 of those have come on the power play, which ties Burke for top spot in the league in that category.
After struggling overall for their past five games, the Warriors got back on track with Tuesday’s win over the B.C. Division leading Royals. Now the key will be to replicate that performance when they battle the Swift Current Broncos in a weekend home-and-home series.
“Victoria is a tough team and we knew that we were going to have to play well, not the way we had previously there, so we came back and played pretty well, had it from our top guys and then the young guys followed suit,” said Burke.
“For large chunks of the game we out played them, we kept level heads and played how we should for the most part of the game.”
The Warriors and Broncos meet at Mosaic Place on Friday night and then they head to the Credit Union Iplex on Saturday night.
Warriors Drop in Top-10… The Warriors slipped from second down to fourth in the latest CHL Top-10 rankings, which were released on Wednesday. The Portland Winterhawks are now the top ranked WHL team in the second slot behind the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. The Broncos are sixth and the Brandon Wheat Kings stay in 10th to round out the WHL teams.