Two key pieces of the Moose Jaw Warriors have made emphatic returns to the team’s lineup this week.
Brayden Yager scored twice and finished with three points in his first game back with the Warriors, leading the team to a 5-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
“Great to see him get on the board tonight, obviously coming back from Pittsburgh confidence is high and he’s feeling good about himself, but we need him to be a big game player and he was tonight,” Warriors associate coach Scott King said.
In his second game back, Jagger Firkus also led the charge with a goal and four points. The Seattle Kraken prospect has seven points in two games.
King said having Firkus and Yager back in the lineup pushes the team’s forward group to another level.
“I thought all four lines did generate and were responsible in our end, and I thought the D did a really good job of opening lanes, finding sticks on the side of the net and getting shots through,” he said.
“Obviously Firkus and Yager led the way, Pavel [McKenzie] had a real good game — a nice complementary player for them and made some real nice plays on goals — so it’s a good feeling from the group and gets us back on the right track.”
McKenzie picked up his first two WHL points in the win, setting up Firkus for his first period goal and then assisting on Yager’s second of the night.
The 18-year-old rookie forward said he felt like he settled into his role.
“It feels amazing, I got the nerves out finally, so feels great now,” he said.
“It’s an honour playing with two guys like that, obviously nervous, but try not to think about it as much.”
King said McKenzie filled a role on the Warriors’ top line.
“He can make plays because he’s got skill, but he’s responsible in his own zone and the thing that makes him really good on that line, especially tonight, was he just gets the puck in those guys hands and then he goes to the net,” he said.
The Warriors jumped out to a quick start when Atley Calvert scored his second of the season only 1:44 into the game.
Firkus followed that up and made it 2-0, but Brandon would get on the board late in the first to make it 2-1 after one.
Yager took over for the Warriors in the second, scoring twice to make it a 4-1 game going into the third.
Calvert scored his second of the night on the power play early in the third period to give Moose Jaw insurance to take the win.
Jackson Unger made 35 saves to backstop the Warriors to the victory for the second straight game.
“He made the saves he was supposed to make and the guys did a good job clearing pucks in front of him,” King said.
The Warriors finished the night 2-for-3 on the power play and went 2-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Moose Jaw has now won two straight to improve to 2-2-0-0 this season heading into the second showdown this week with the Regina Pats on Saturday night at the Brandt Centre.
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