The Moose Jaw Warriors had their three-game winning streak snapped by the equally as hot Tri-City Americans, who won their sixth straight game on Wednesday night.
A lack of finish doomed the Warriors in the back-and-forth game against the Americans as Moose Jaw fell 8-4 in Kennewick, Washington to drop their record to 3-3 on their seven-game road trip.
“It felt like all night we’d get one back, get within one and then all of a sudden they would score right away and we’d be right back on our heels, which is a tough way to go through a game,” said Warriors assistant coach Scott King after the loss.
“Our chances were definitely there, we had numerous glorious opportunities to score, didn’t, and they capitalized on almost every opportunity that they had.”
The Warriors were only out-shot 37-36 in the game, but couldn’t finish on a number of chances right on the Americans’ doorstep. Tri-City had an answer for whatever the Warriors threw at them throughout the game.
“We didn’t really bear down on our chances,” said rookie defenceman Chase Hartje, who finished with one assist and a minus-two in the loss. “We had just as many as shots and chances as them, but we just didn’t bear down and they did on their goals.”
Issac Johnson opened the scoring 5:37 into the game for Tri-City and the score stayed that way until early in the second period when Oleg Sosunov’s fifth of the season tied the game up for the Warriors.
Jordan Topping and Parker AuCoin would score less than a minute apart for the Americans midway through the second period to give them some cushion.
The Warriors would cut the lead back down to one just over two minutes later when Justin Almeida potted his eight goal of the season, but the Americans came right back to go up by two when Riley Sawchuk tipped home a goal only 41 seconds later.
Warriors captain Brett Howden riffled in a shot for his seventh of the season just 54 seconds into the third period, but it was all Americans after that as Morgan Geekie, Michael Rasmussen, Topping and Sasha Mutala all scored over a 5:45 span.
Jett Woo scored on the power play with just over seven minutes to go, but that was as close as the Warriors got in the loss.
“We were chasing a lot and getting beat to the inside a lot,” said King on what went wrong defensively to allow Tri-City to score eight goals. “We made it too easy on them, they were penetrating the slot too much and getting some point blank chances, which makes it tough on (Brody Willms).”
Willms made 29 saves, while Woo had a goal and two points, and Brayden Burke picked up a pair of assists in the loss. Topping picked up two goals and four points, while Dylan Coughlan chipped in with four assists in the win for the Americans.
Emotions spilled over late in the game with Howden given a ten-minute misconduct as time expired. While these two teams only playing once a year, the bad blood built over a hard fought game between two contending teams in the WHL.
“Emotions were running, we definitely don’t like each other,” said Hartje after the game.
King added that seeing the frustration for the Warriors is a good thing after a loss, “8-4 is a tough score, but even though the score was the way it was, we still battled hard and competed every shift. Frustrating and emotion isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he said.
The Warriors will now close out their road trip by heading to Medicine Hat on Friday to face the Tigers, who knocked off the Spokane Chiefs, 7-4 on Wednesday night.
Warriors Moving Up... The Warriors jumped from ninth to fourth in this week's CHL Top-10 rankings, just ahead of the fifth ranked Portland Winterhawks, who Moose Jaw knocked off 6-4 on Tuesday night. The Warriors remain in the rankings for the fourth consecutive week. The Swift Current Broncos are the highest ranked WHL team as they come in second after being third last week.