The Moose Jaw Warriors pushed their game to another level on Tuesday night.
Missing five regulars from their lineup due to injury, the Warriors went into the Credit Union Iplex and skated to a 7-4 win over a strong Swift Current Broncos squad, extending their winning streak to six games.
“We’re short some d-men and we knew that we had to score and we showed that scoring seven goals tonight,” said Warriors forward Jayden Halbgewachs, who paced the offence with a hat trick and five points in the win.
Moose Jaw headed into the game without Captain Brett Howden for the third straight game and were also missing defencemen Matthew Benson, Josh Brook, Jett Woo and Dmitri Zaitsev, forcing the team to play with five rookie defencemen.
The missing pieces didn’t seem to slow down the Warriors as they won for the ninth time in the last ten games.
“That was a huge game for all of us on the back-end, we didn’t have a lot of experience, but everyone dug in and did a really good job, we played with a lot of poise and confidence,” said defenceman Colin Paradis, who scored his first career WHL goal in his 145th career game in the win.
Paradis had more games of WHL experience than all five of the Warriors other defencemen combined heading into the game.
“It felt really good, a bit of a long time coming but it was really nice to get that one,” said Paradis on scoring his first goal.
Justin Almeida had a goal and four points to help lead the Warriors to the win, while Brayden Burke posted four assists to move into third in the league with 25 helpers this season.
Swift Current’s Logan Foster opened the scoring just 5:33 into the game, but the Warriors would come out of a back-and-forth opening period with a 3-2 lead after goals from newly acquired Barrett Sheen as well as Noah Gregor and Halbgewachs.
Sheen said he fit in well with the team on the ice in his first game action with the Warriors after being acquired from Kootenay on Monday.
“It took a little bit of time to get use to the way that they play, but once I started to get going it felt good out there and it was a good game,” said Sheen, who finished with a goal and two points in his Warriors’ debut.
“(Halbgewachs and Gregor) are good players, so they made it easy on me coming in here… I like to take the body and use my size to my advantage.”
Almeida scored just 11 seconds into the second period and Paradis added his first career WHL goal later in the period, but the Broncos didn’t go away. Aleksi Heponiemi scored less than four minutes after Almeida and then Tyler Steenbergen’s second of the game, and 28th of the season, with only 35 seconds left in the second made it 5-4 after two.
Just as they did on Friday and Sunday against Regina, Halbgewachs and the Warriors took over in the third period, striking for two goals and outshooting the Broncos, 16-9, to skate to the win.
“The team’s playing really well together, everyone is working across all four lines and that’s what we need, so our team is doing well right now and it’s because the guys are clicking,” said Halbgewachs.
“We’re not focusing on the win streak, just our next game and we just want to keep winning and giving ourselves the best chance to.”
Willms continued to be strong when called upon for the Warriors, making 23 saves for his WHL-leading 13th win of the season.
Moose Jaw went 4-for-6 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill in the win.
The Warriors will look to keep their roll going when they head to the Bridge City on Wednesday night for their first meeting of the season against the Saskatoon Blades. The Pre-Game Show is on the air at 6:40 p.m. on Country 100.