Warriors-Paulic-Nov2Justin Paulic makes a big glove save this season against Prince Albert.

At this time last year, Justin Paulic was forced to become an every game starter for the Moose Jaw Warriors after an injury to Daniel Wapple that kept him out for the rest of the season.

Paulic ended up making 26 straight starts to end the year, a streak that carried over into this season, finally ending after 30 straight games.  

Now with the injury to Zach Sawchenko on the Warriors' six-game US Division road trip, Paulic has been forced to carry the load again for the tribe.  He's now made 13 straight starts heading into Friday's meeting with the Prince George Cougars.

“I haven't really thought about it that much,” said Paulic.  “Even if Zach doesn't get injured, I still prepare like I can go in during any game, so I just try to treat it like that.”

Sawchenko came on in relief of Paulic during the opening game of their road trip in Portland, but suffered a lower body injury and has been out since.  15-year-old Brody Willms, the Warriors' eighth round pick in 2013, was called up to serve as back-up, but it's all been on Paulic's shoulders since then.

It was a big load for the 18-year-old netminder as he made six starts in ten days on the road trip, but he said he just tries to take it one game at a time.

“I almost try to forget about it and just try to relax,” said Paulic.  “On game days I focus on that game and don't worry about the next game the next night and just take it a little bit easier.”

This season has been up in down for Paulic, who's in his second full year in the Western Hockey League.  He's struggled at times and looked like one of the best in the league on other nights, which is evident in his 8-22-3-5 record on the year.  Playing every night though does give him a chance to work through any struggles that he may be having.

“I felt (my game) on the road trip was better than it had been,” he said.  “But, we didn't get wins and that's the most important thing, so that's what I have to try to do.”

The Warriors are on a seven-game winless skid, but Paulic said they saw some positives while on the road and are hoping that they can build off those when they return to home ice coming up on Friday.

“That whole US Division is pretty strong, so staying in most of those games and getting a couple points against some tough teams was really big for us, but again the most important thing is winning games and that's what we need to do,” he said.

The team has been happy to get back into their normal routine this week, playing their final game of the road trip last Saturday.  They've gotten to practice at Mosaic Place and their hoping a return to home ice will cure what ails them.

“As fun as the road trip is, especially in the States, it's good to get back here,” said Paulic.  “It gets pretty tiring and it's nice to get back into the normal routine.”

The Warriors will be facing off with a team that they match-up pretty well with when they return to the Mosaic Place ice, going against the Prince George Cougars, who sit in ninth place in the Western Conference.  Paulic said they're going to have to play a tight defensive game to be successful against the Cougars.

“They've been able to put up a lot of goals (the Cougars scored ten in Saskatoon on Wednesday), so trying to keep them to a minimum is definitely a key to playing Prince George,” he said.

The Warriors and the Cougars will square off on Friday night at Mosaic Place.  You can catch all the action on Country 100, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:40pm.

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