Sunday’s win to sweep the weekend series with the Regina Pats was big in its own right, but when you consider how the Moose Jaw Warriors pulled it off, it makes it an even larger victory for the local WHL squad.
The Warriors entered Sunday’s game missing Captain Brett Howden as well as top-four defencemen Josh Brook and Dmitri Zaitsev. They then lost defenceman Jett Woo in the first period and fellow 17-year-old rearguard Matthew Benson in the second period.
That left Moose Jaw with just four defencemen, three of them rookies, for the final 30 minutes of the game.
“It was a real good effort by everyone on the back end there, we all dug in and worked really hard to get things done, kept things simple, so it was really great to see,” said defenceman Colin Paradis, who was the most experienced defenceman left for the Warriors.
“Everyone just dug in and did their best and that was the difference.”
Paradis, rookie import Oleg Sosunov and 17-year-olds Chase Hartje and Brendan Kwiatkowski handled the increased work load over the final period and half on Sunday and helped the Warriors come away with their fifth straight win.
“I told them after the game that I was proud of them, the way they reacted and the way that they dug in,” said Warriors head coach Tim Hunter. “Colin Paradis has had a so-so year so far, but that was his best game in the time that I’ve been here, he kept it simple, moved the puck really well and defended really well.
“These guys have been developing, they get rushed into play and they all want to play and play more and that was their chance.”
Hartje has just 11 games of WHL experience, but he looked like an experienced veteran during Sunday’s win as he helped to keep Pats star Sam Steel and company in check after the first period.
Hartje said it was a great effort across the board to get through that game.
“I feel like I got better during the game, the more minutes I get more comfortable with the team and the coaches and everything,” he said.
Woo and Benson weren’t on the ice for practice on Monday and are expected to be out for the Warriors as they open a four-in-five on Tuesday in Swift Current.
To help fill the void on the back-end, the Warriors have called up 15-year-old defenceman Daemon Hunt and Hunter said they’re planning on bringing in a few more defencemen before Tuesday’s game.
The Warriors head to Swift Current to face the Broncos in another big East Division match-up on Tuesday night. The Pre-Game Show is on the air at 6:40 p.m. on Country 100 from the Credit Union Iplex.