Facing their first bit of adversity, the Moose Jaw Warriors are focused on fighting back.
The team returned to practice on Tuesday after dropping a pair of games over the weekend in Prince Albert and Swift Current.
While the Warriors (7-3-1-1) have had plenty of success in the early portion of this season, the team is still learning and figuring out how to bring that consistent effort each night.
“The team has been playing really good and last weekend we struggled a bit, but it's a building block and we're going to move forward and learn from it,” said goalie Zach Sawchenko on Tuesday.
“Friday night didn't go our way, we weren't competing hard and we weren't really working and PA just plain and simple out worked us. Saturday, we were down a couple of bodies, but we showed a lot of character fighting back in that game, the scoreboard didn't show it, but I thought the guys showed a lot of heart.”
It is still early in the season, but Sawchenko acknowledged that the team is focusing on collecting as many points as possible early in the year to avoid a situation like last season when they missed the playoffs by a single point.
“Last weekend sucked, were fighting for points here, so it shows a lot of character in our team with how we handled last weekend and how were approaching this coming weekend,” said Sawchenko.
So how do the Warriors regroup and get things back on track?
“The biggest thing is to just keep things simple, last weekend, we tried to complicate things a little bit too much, a little too much stickhandling, too many perfect plays, we've just got to keep it simple, drive the net, shoot the puck and just play our game,” said Sawchenko.
The Warriors have a three-in-three weekend ahead, they kick it off with a home-and-home against the Regina Pats, in Regina on Friday and at Mosaic Place on Saturday, and then they welcome in the Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday.
The Saturday and Sunday games are both afternoon contests and for hockey players, who are creatures of habit, there will be a bit of an adjustment for them. Sawchenko said they can't think about it too much and just adjust.
“It's obviously a little different, not really any time to have a nap or anything, your routine is going to be altered a little bit, but come game time, it only matters what happens on the ice,” he said. “We're going to be ready to play whether it's a two o'clock start or a seven o'clock start.”
Sawchenko has been a big part of the Warriors start to the season as he currently sits ninth in the Western Hockey League in goals against average at 2.54 and he's fifth in save percentage at .929, while posting a 6-1-1-1 record.
Despite the hot start, the 17-year-old netminder isn't satisfied.
“There's room to improve, I've still got to be better,” he said. “The team has been playing great in front of me and that's the biggest thing.
“I just need to stop chasing pucks, I just want to let pucks get to me and much like the team, I just need to keep things simple.”
The Warriors have a couple more days of practice left before they battle the Pats in Regina on Friday night.