After a weekend away from the rink, it was right back down to work for the Moose Jaw Warriors during practice on Monday.
The Warriors finished off their first round series against the Saskatoon Blades with a 6-3 win in Game 5 on Friday night.
The team celebrated that win, but have now quickly turned their attention to a second round matchup against the Winnipeg ICE.
“All the guys worked hard for this,” 20-year-old goalie Carl Tetachuk said. “[Game 5] was one of our best games all season, so the boys have some momentum going into Winnipeg and we’re excited.”
While the Warriors dispatched of Saskatoon in five games, the series was hard fought for the young team, who play some of its best hockey all season to advance into the next round.
Tetachuk said the Warriors did a good job of riding the highs and lows during that first round series.
“We stuck with it the whole series, if they scored one, got up one, we came back every time and it just shows how relentless we are,” he said.
Warriors forward Jagger Firkus, who had two goals on his birthday in the clinching game on Friday, said Moose Jaw is confident in how they’re playing right now.
“We showed that we can play with good teams, we showed that we can even dominate against some good teams,” he said. “Going against Winnipeg, they’re a strong team, but that doesn’t concern us too much because if we go there and play our game, I think we have a good chance.”
The Warriors went into the first round of the playoffs without much playoff experience, but they’re coming out knowing what it takes to be successful during the post-season.
“You can tell that [the younger players] confidence has grown, they feel more comfortable every shift they go out there,” Tetachuk said.
“It matters for them and they’re growing in this playoffs.”
The ICE advanced in five games past the Prince Albert Raiders in the first round, finishing off the series with an 8-2 win on home ice on Friday.
Moose Jaw went 2-5-0-0 in the seven meetings against the East Division champions during the regular season, however, the Warriors were 2-2 on home ice, including winning each of the final two matchups at Mosaic Place.
Firkus said the Warriors will need to have strong puck management against the ICE.
“They’re a really quick transitional team, they like to make plays off your turnovers and try to create offence off of your turnovers, so we just have to be hard and make sure we keep our turnovers down,” he said.
Tetachuk said playing hard and physical against Winnipeg’s speed game will be big for the Warriors.
“They’re shifty, but we can just be physical on them, we can wear them down a bit and we’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities,” he said.
The Warriors and ICE open their second round series on Friday in Winnipeg.
Tickets for Game 3 next Tuesday and Game 4 next Wednesday in Moose Jaw go on sale this Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Mosaic Place Box Office and mjwarriors.ca.