Moose Jaw, SK — The Moose Jaw Warriors landed the first strike in a midweek home-and-home set against the Saskatoon Blades.

Moose Jaw pulled off a hard-fought 3-1 win over Saskatoon on Tuesday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

“We had to work for it,” Warriors assistant coach Gord Burnett said. “We had a lot of nice looks tonight we weren’t able to score on, but they did too, so both teams did a good job in their zone.”

The Warriors scored in each period and held the Blades to just 21 shots as they moved just one point back in the Eastern Conference standings.

Warriors forward Ryder Korczak, who finished with two assists in the win, said Saskatoon played them tight throughout the game.

“They’re a shutdown team, it’s like a playoff game out there, so there’s not really any second or third opportunities, but I thought we did pretty well to get in front of the goalie and smash away,” Korczak said.

Eric Alarie opened the scoring for the Warriors 7:20 into the game when he finished off a great feed from Korczak for his 14th of the season. It was Alarie’s fourth goal in the last three games.

The Warriors extended their lead on Josh Hoekstra’s sixth of the season midway through the second period.

Saskatoon was able to answer back less than three minutes later when Egor Sidorov buried a one-timer on the power play to make it a one-goal game heading into the third.

The Warriors held the Blades at bay in the third and sealed the win with a shorthanded, empty net goal by Brayden Yager, his 20th of the season, with 1:07 left in the game.

Korczak said gutting out a win like this is huge for the Warriors moving forward.

“All games are going to be like this in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s definitely a good learning experience, but we can’t really be too comfortable, we need to stay on our toes and not be content.”

Connor Ungar made 20 saves for the Warriors in the win, while Moose Jaw outshot Saskatoon 31-21 on the night.

The Warriors finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Blades were 1-for-4.

These two teams will meet for a rematch on Wednesday night in Saskatoon.

Korczak said the Warriors are expecting a big pushback from the Blades.

“They’re going to come out firing, so we’ve got to weather the storm, we’ve got to do our best to just shut them down a little and take control again,” he said.

The Warriors and Blades face off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at SaskTel Centre.