Moose Jaw, SK — The Moose Jaw Warriors’ opening weekend didn’t go as planned, but the team is focused on turning the page with 66 more games to go.

The Warriors dropped their home opener to the Brandon Wheat Kings, 9-4, on Saturday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

“A lot of it is a youth thing, first game at home, home opener, squeezing the stick a little bit tight and you gain confidence through practice, executing well and doing the things in practice,” Warriors associate coach Scott King said.

“I’m not going to read too much into it, there was moments early where we had some opportunities to make the game a tight game and we didn’t get it to go.”

The Warriors fell behind 2-0 midway through the first, but picked up a big goal from Lynden Lakovic late in the opening frame. Brandon followed that up two more goals in the final two minutes of the first to take a 4-1 lead after one.

“There was moments where we had real opportunities to be in the game and obviously that fourth goal put us on our heels and after that, it was real scrambling and we just looked very unconfident with the play we’re making,” King said.

Brandon picked up two more goals in the second to take a 6-1 lead after two and extended that lead to 8-1 early in the third.

Rylen Roersma and Nolan Flamand led the way for Brandon with two goals and three points each, while Caleb Hadland finished with a goal and four points.

There were positive moments for the Warriors on the night as two players scored their first Western Hockey League goals.

Finley won a battle in front of the net and scored his first late in the third period.

“It’s a special feeling, just putting the jersey on, but getting that goal too, it’s very exciting and hopefully it’s the first of many,” Finley said.

“[The puck] was turned over on the boards and [Noah Degenstein] picked it up and shot it on net, I went to drive the net and lucky bounce and it went off me, so just a great, great moment.”

Later in the third, Brady Ness fired a seeing-eye shot through traffic that found its way through and into the back of the net for his first in the WHL.

King said it was good to see Ness rewarded for hard work to start the season.

“Brady Ness has been real good since the start of camp,” King said. “He’s getting more confident with the puck, is getting more assertive in the decisions he’s making.”

Matthew Gallant added Moose Jaw’s fourth goal with 1:11 to go in the third period.

Josh Banini also appeared in his first WHL game, making 23 on 27 shots in relief of Jackson Unger, who stopped 12-of-17 shots to start the game.

The Warriors will need to bounce back quickly with three games in four nights on tap next week.

“Lots to learn from here and it doesn’t get any easier, we’re going to go in Regina on Wednesday and that’s going to be a tough game,” King said.

The Warriors battle the Regina Pats on Wednesday in the Queen City before hosting the Wheat Kings for a rematch on Friday at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

All games can be heard on Country 100 with the voice of the Warriors’ James Gallo.

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