The roster is different, but that doesn't mean the expectations are changing for the Moose Jaw Warriors this season.

After winning the Scotty Munro Trophy as regular season champions last season, the Warriors have lost a lot of scoring and their starting goalie, but there's a new crop of players ready to lead the team in 2018-19.

"It may not be as pretty (this season), but it's going to be effective," said Warriors head coach Tim Hunter ahead of Friday night's season opener in Brandon.

"We're going to have three different phases of our team: right now, Christmas time it's going to be quite a bit better and then by the end of the year, we're going to be a lot better, it will be a night and day difference. It's going to take patience, a lot of work by the coaching staff and the players."

The Warriors used 36 different players during the preseason as they looked for replacements for Jayden Halbgewachs, Brayden Burke, Tanner Jeannot, Brett Howden, Oleg Sosunov, Dmitri Zaitsev, Brody Willms and more.

Moose Jaw loses 258 goals from last year's team, but Hunter is confident that they have the players in place to remain competitive this season after making a push last season.

"We're going to try to play the same way, it may not look the same; the end result, how the puck ends up in the other team's end, how many nice passes we're able to make and all that; but we have to keep trying to play the same way because how our players are going to develop the fastest and be the best players possible," said Hunter.

19-year-old forward Ryan Peckford will be one of the leaders offensively for the Moose Jaw Warriors this season. (Photo: Marc Smith)

Players like Tate Popple, Brecon Wood, Tyler Smithies and Tristyn DeRoose will be asked to take on bigger roles.

Ryan Peckford will be one of the players that will be tasked with taking his game to another level this season. The 19-year-old was acquired last season in a trade with Victoria and finished the season with 20 goals and 49 points

He said he knows that he will need to lead the way, along with Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Justin Almeida and 20-year-old Tristin Langan.

"I want to have a big year offensively and help out the team that way and just lead by example, so I'm really excited," said Peckford.

"We won't be as offensive, obviously we lost a few guys, but I think we'll still be pretty offensive and we're going to have to play both styles of games, sometimes we'll have to grind it, but we'll still have that offence there and it will be a good mix."

There's a lot of unknowns offensively heading into the season for the Warriors, but that's not the case on the defensive side where the team has one of the stronger returning groups in the league, led by NHL draft picks Josh Brook and Jett Woo, as well as 20-year-old Brandon Schuldhaus.

Those three lead a group that also includes 2017 first round pick Daemon Hunt as well as Dalton Hamaliuk, Matthew Benson, Matthew Sanders, Drae Gardiner, and Brendan Kwiatkowski.

19-year-old defenceman Josh Brook will lead a loaded defensive core for the Moose Jaw Warriors this season. (Photo: Marc Smith)

The biggest change will be in goal where a season-ending injury to Brody Willms thrust 18-year-old goalie Adam Evanoff into the starting role.

Evanoff said he's ready to take his game up a notch in his second season in the WHL.

"I feel pretty confident, the coaches did a great job of preparing the team for the big show and come this weekend we'll be ready to go," said Evanoff.

"We've got a good system here, we've just got to stick to it. It's definitely a different team than last year, but every year, you're going to have a different team, so if we stick to the system, we'll be good."

The Warriors have brought in overage goalie Brodan Salmond to help Evanoff along, while 17-year-old goalie Ethan Fitzgerald remains with the team to open the season.

"Nobody is being handed anything, Adam is taking the opportunity, he prepared real well, had a great summer, he's way fitter than he was laster and he's matured as an individual, which is a big part of it," said Hunter. "We'll see how it all works out between him and Brodan in the early going and see who's going to carry the ball."

The Warriors head into Brandon to face a Wheat Kings team on the rise in their season opener.

Peckford said the Warriors are looking forward to seeing how they match-up with one of the contenders early in the season.

"It's always an exciting time to start the regular season off and we want to start it well, so we've been getting prepared and are all excited to play," said Peckford.

"They're a good team, they play a similar style to us, so we just have to come out ready and prepared to play our best because they'll be good."

The Warriors and Wheat Kings hit the ice at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night at Westoba Place in Brandon. You can catch all the action on Country 100, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:10 p.m.

The two sides finish up the opening weekend on Saturday night at Mosaic Place when the Warriors will raise their Scotty Munro Trophy and East Division title banners to rafters. 

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., the Pre-Game Show hits the air on Country 100 at 6:40 p.m. and the pre-game ceremonies start at 7 p.m.