The Moose Jaw WINMAR AAA Warriors would score five unanswered goals and erase an early 2-0 Saskatoon Contacts lead and win 5-2 on Tuesday night to take a 2-1 series lead in their first-round playoff matchup.
Moose Jaw would be backstopped by Ryan Bain who made 31 saves for his second playoff win and was named the game’s first star. Not only did he keep the Warriors third period lead in tact but he would make several five-bell saves in the dying minutes to keep his team ahead.
Liam Fitzpatrick, and Grady Hoffman had a pair of goals, while Wyatt LaCoste got his first of the playoffs to open the scoring in the first period.
Not only did Bain play well, the whole Warriors roster outworked the Contacts to earn the win on Tuesday night.
Warriors head coach, Trevor Weisgerber commended his squad for battling back after facing adversity in the first period.
“We stuck with it and the guys battled and worked extremely hard to get it back to 2-2 in the first period,” says Weisgerber. “It was a solid hockey game that they played. Right from Bainer all the way out. It was great to see how hard guys worked, willing to play the price, and just playing a playoff hockey game. I’m really happy with how the guys played.”
The Warriors will now look to finish off the series at the Moose Jaw Events Centre on Thursday for Game 4.
“I told the guys to enjoy tonight [Tuesday] but tomorrow [Wednesday] morning when you get up your focus is for Game 4 and we have to make sure we’re ready to play after Game 4. We need Thursday to be our Game 5 and finish the series at home,” Weisgerber adds.
Moose Jaw would find themselves in a similar situation as in their Game 1 loss on Friday night being down in the first period.
Rylan Hue would get the Contacts on the board first, as he got behind the Moose Jaw defense and was sprung on a breakaway. He was able to put one past Bain on the backhand for the 1-0 lead 7:21 into the first period.
After taking a penalty a couple minutes late, Saskatoon would capitalize for their fourth powerplay goal of the series.
Zach Moore would find his spot at the right-wing faceoff dot and fire one over the glove of Bain to take a 2-0 lead, 10 minutes into the game.
On Tuesday, the script was flipped and it was the Warriors who took control of the game once the Contacts went up 2-0.
Wyatt LaCoste would be the beneficiary of a lucky bounce off the boards and would put it into the open net to get Moose Jaw on the board 2-1 for his first of the playoffs. Rhett Perrin would get the lone assist on the goal.
A minute later the Warriors would capitalize on a very feisty forecheck, which led to Dylan Duzan in front of the net waiting out the defender and passing it to Liam Fitzpatrick who wouldn’t miss tying the game 2-2.
Moose Jaw would head into the first intermission tied 2-2 and leading in shots 18-11.
In the second period, Moose Jaw would take their first lead of the hockey game.
On a powerplay, with just under eight minutes left, the Warriors would transition down the ice on an odd-man rush and Connor Miller would make a perfect cross-ice pass to Fitzpatrick and he buried it in the open net for his second of the game and third of these playoffs.
The Warriors would finish the second period with the 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. They would also lead on the shot clock 26-20.
Moose Jaw would not give up in the third period and eventually would be rewarded about four minutes in.
Grady Hoffman would weave his way through a couple defenders and rip the puck from the top of the right faceoff dot, finding twine over the blocker of Logan Edmonstone to take a 4-2 lead.
Penalty trouble down the stretch of the game would find the Warriors down a man a number of times. The Contacts would fire everything they had at the net but couldn’t beat Bain or the Moose Jaw penalty killers.
Hoffman would pick up his second of the game in the final minute, as he buried an empty netter to put Moose Jaw up 5-2.
That’s how the game would end with the Warriors take a 2-1 series lead after Tuesday’s win.
The final shot count was 36-33 for the Warriors. Moose Jaw would finish 1-for-6 on the powerplay and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Tuesday’s win marked the first time this season that the Warriors have won at Merlis Belsher Place, coming in with an 0-3 record prior to the game.
They will look to finish off the series on Thursday night in Game 4 at the Moose Jaw Events Centre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.