For 40 minutes, it was exactly the return from the Christmas break that the Moose Jaw Warriors were looking for, but they couldn't finish the deal against the Swift Current Broncos.
The Warriors surrendered four third period goals and lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Broncos at the Credit Union Iplex to kick-off the second half of the WHL season. Swift Current moves three points back of Moose Jaw for first place in the East Division.
“They kept coming, but unfortunately a couple of miscues out there cost us a couple of goals and then in overtime, we had two breakaways and two real good chances to end it, but it didn’t go that way,” said Assistant Coach Scott King after the game.
Justin Almeida had two goals in the loss. He had a shot at a third in overtime when he was sprung on a breakaway, but ran out of room after his first move.
Brayden Burke also broke loose in the overtime period, but couldn’t convert.
In the shootout, Almeida and Jayden Halbgewachs were stopped, while Glenn Gawdin and Matteo Gennaro scored for Swift Current to lift them to the win.
“Coming off the break, the first two periods were solid, we were working hard and weren’t trying to force things, were coming to pucks and that’s what worked for us, but we got away from that in the third and that’s when things went downhill,” said Almeida.
“We got away from our game and that doesn’t help when they’re trying to push to tie the game, that’s a bad mix.”
The opening two periods saw the Warriors play with speed and physicality as they were able to build up a three-goal lead on the Broncos.
The Warriors struck quickly to open the game as Burke finished off a nice passing play to score just 1:14 into the first. That was followed quickly by a goal from Tanner Jeannot — his 26th of the season — only 19 seconds later to make it 2-0 before the game was two minutes old.
Almeida’s first of the game came early in the second period to make it a 3-0 game in the Warriors’ favour heading into the third.
Knowing the importance of the next goal, the Warriors couldn’t get it as Max Patterson and Kaden Elder were able to beat goalie Brody Willms for back-to-back goals less than two minutes apart to make it a one-goal game.
Almeida responded for Moose Jaw just 1:23 after Elder’s goal, but the two-goal lead didn’t stick. Gawdin scored with just under four minutes to go to cut it back down to one and Gennaro scored the game-tying goal only 28 seconds later.
“Missed clearing attempts, a couple of times we needed to be a little more aggressive with guys cutting to the net, but they kept coming, they kept working and put us on our heels in the third period,” said King.
“When we made it 4-2, I thought we were in real good shape there to finish off the game, but you’ve got to find a way, when you get teams down, to get that extra goal and put them away, so it was a bit of a lesson here tonight.”
Willms made 23 saves in the loss, while Flodell turned away 34 shots in regulation and overtime and then two more in the shootout. The Warriors were 2-for-5 on the power play and held the Broncos to just 1-for-3 with their man advantage.
The Warriors will get a shot at redemption coming up on Thursday night when they host the Broncos in the second half of their home-and-home.
“That’s the good thing about hockey is you get a chance to bounce right back and we want to bounce back and show them that we can play that full sixty minutes, the right way, and come out with a win,” said Almeida.
Puck drops at 7 p.m. and the Pre-Game Show will be on the air at 6:40 p.m. on Country 100.