Moose Jaw scored three goals in the second period on Saturday afternoon in Brandon and opened a weekend home-and-home series against the Wheat Kings with a 7-4 win at Westman Place.
Brayden Burke had one goal and four points to take over the WHL-lead in points with 73 in 38 games, while Ryan Peckford scored his first two goals as a Warrior and finished with three points in the win.
Jayden Halbgewachs also extended his goal lead with his 38th goal in 38 games.
The Warriors started the game slow and the Wheat Kings were able to capitalize with two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. At 2:42, Gunnar Wegleitner jumped on a rebound inside the right circle and lifted the puck past Brody Willms. Then at 6:50, Linden McCorrister and Stelio Mattheos teamed up for a give-and-go that resulted in a goal for McCorrister to make it 2-0.
Moose Jaw got better as the period went on and they were finally able to respond to the Wheat Kings only 59 seconds after Brandon’s second goal.
Justin Almeida chipped the puck over the Brandon blue-line for Burke, who drove hard through the middle of the ice and then set up Peckford on the right wing where he scored his first goals as a Warrior and his 14th of the season.
With just over five minutes remaining in the period, the Warriors tossed the puck around the Brandon boards from the neutral zone, a Wheat King defenceman went to play the puck from his left goal line to the middle of their zone, it deflected off of Tristin Langan and snuck through the pads of Logan Thompson to tie the game at two.
Moose Jaw kept the pressure on the Wheat Kings in the final minute of the first period as Peckford, Almeida and Burke controlled the puck inside the Brandon zone. Almeida punched the puck from the right half wall to Burke behind the net and quickly tossed a back-hand pass to Peckford at the bottom of the right circle where his quick shot beat Thompson. His second goal of the period gave Moose Jaw a 3-2 lead going in to the intermission.
In the second period, the Warriors continued to win battles along the Brandon boards which allowed them to add to their lead.
At 9:30 of the middle period, Peckford controlled the puck behind the Wheat Kings net and then set up Jett Woo inside the right circle where he snapped a quick shot past Thompson for his seventh of the year.
The Warriors found themselves on the power play with just over seven minutes to go in the period and they were able to extend their lead.
Burke made a cross ice pass from the right wall to Almeida inside the left circle, he then snapped a hard pass along the ice towards the side of the right crease where Halbgewachs deflected in his WHL-leading 38th goal.
Brandon fought their way back to within two on a goal from McCorrister at 16:21, but the Warriors went back up by three with just over two minutes remaining in the frame when Tanner Jeannot scored his 27th to make it 6-3 going in to the intermission.
Throughout the third period, the Wheat Kings pressed to get back into the game, but the Warriors held their ground defensively to limit their chances.
Brandon however kept pushing and was able to get back to within two when Evan Weinger scored at 15:29.
For the rest of regulation, the Warriors didn’t give the Wheat Kings much room, in the final minute of the game, Burke picked up an empty net goal to end the game.
Halbgewachs and Langan chipped in with a goal and two points each, while Almeida picked up four assists.
The Warriors and Wheat Kings close out their 2017 schedule on Sunday night at Mosaic Place with a New Year’s Eve battle. Tickets are available online at mjwarriors.ca and at the Mosaic Place Box Office.
Catch all the action on Country 100 starting with the Westrum Lumber Timber Mart PreGame Show at 6:40 p.m.