Saginaw, Mich.- How many times has Warriors Head Coach Mark O’Leary reminded his team that any one of them could be the one to make the game-changing play?

We’ve lost count, but it’s clear the message is seared into the minds of Warriors players.

And when push came to shove, it was 18-year-old Aiden Ziprick who scored the shorthanded goal that lifted Moose Jaw to its first-ever win at the Memorial Cup.

“It’s pretty special,” Ziprick said afterward. “It’s a big tournament right now. Close game, and we needed a goal. So to get one for the guys is just huge for me. I’ll definitely remember that for the rest of my life.

The whole year, when we’re against the wall we know that’s when we’re at our best. So I think tonight we just showed up. We don’t want to go home yet and we’re still here for the win.”

Moose Jaw ended up eliminating the QMJHL Champion Drummondville Voltigeurs in a 5-3 victory and will move on to Friday’s semifinal match, where the WHL powerhouse will face the Saginaw Spirit.

But Ziprick’s tally is even more impressive when you take a look at the bigger picture of his season.

The Russell, M.B. product was traded to Moose Jaw in late September as a depth defenceman who wasn’t expected to make an offensive impact on a roster filled with NHL prospects.

Ziprick strung together six assists throughout the regular season and was named Warrior of the Game on February 15, 2024, after putting up back-to-back helpers, with the team joking that the stalwart blueliner was ‘coming for Firk’, the eventual WHL Player of the Year.

He cashed in for his first WHL goal in Moose Jaw’s regular-season finale on March 23, 2024.

Sixty-six days later, Ziprick came back for more, lurking high in the Drummondville zone on the penalty kill when Captain Denton Mateychuk teed him up for a precision wrister that beat Riley Mercer.

Player of the Game Jackson Unger, watching from the Moose Jaw crease, wasn’t surprised by Ziprick’s impressive shot.

“We’re all happy for the kid,” the 2024 NHL Draft-eligible netminder beamed. “He’s so good, he’s consistent, he tries so hard and he’s got a ripper. I’m surprised it’s his second (goal) but we’re all proud of him.”

“Couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” O’Leary added. “He’s a popular teammate. He works hard every day. He’s got a smile on his face and you know, he’s had a lot of looks this year. I know when he scored his first one, it was a lot of a lot of happy teammates. And it’s no different tonight. That’s what the playoffs are all about. Different guys in different moments. We talked about it all the time- be ready, it could be the most important moment of the game when the puck is on your stick and tonight it was Zip and it was a big one.”

Ziprick is the first defenceman to score a shorthanded goal at the Memorial Cup since Acadie-Bathurst Titan alternate captain Adam Holwell in Game 2 of the 2018 edition of the tournament.

He also picked up an assist against London in Monday’s tilt against the OHL winners.

The Warriors are in action Friday night against the Saginaw Spirit. The pre-game show begins at 5:10 p.m. on Country 100 with the Voice of the Warriors James Gallo ahead of the 5:30 p.m. puck drop.

All games will be broadcast on TSN 1/5, RDS, NHL Network (USA only) and CHL TV.