Warriors sweep Hurricanes; Advance to second round
Lethbridge, AB — A three-goal third period helped propel the Moose Jaw Warriors into the second round.
The Warriors topped the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2, on Wednesday night, finishing off a four-game sweep in their best-of-seven first round series.
“It’s nice to get four wins in a row, but we’re going to get back to work and get ready for the next one,” Warriors forward Brayden Yager said.
“They were all super close games in the end and everybody knows Lethbridge plays a super physical game.”
After scoring a double overtime win in Game 1, the Warriors outscored the Hurricanes, 16-5, over the next three games to earn the franchise’s first four-game sweep since the 2012 WHL Playoffs (beat Medicine Hat in four games).
Yager said the Warriors established their game against the Hurricanes’ physical game.
“They definitely come out hard, especially in the first 10 minutes, we realized that they really wanted to put some pressure on us and we did a really good job of pushing back and let us dictate the game,” he said.
Yager scored twice and finished with three points, while Max Wanner added a goal and three points in the Warriors’ series clinching win.
King said Wanner stood out offensively and defensively in the win.
“Wanner and Logan Dowhaniuk, they were real physical,” he said. “Max really stood out just by how he was bashing guys around, he adds that element, it was something that we were missing and he’s really important back there.”
Lynden Lakovic and Denton Mateychuk also scored, while Atley Calvert and Jagger Firkus had two assists each.
“They bash it around and if you’re going to get offence, you’ve got to get inside and we did a pretty good job throughout the course of the series of getting there and not being afraid to get inside and create opportunities that way,” Warriors assistant coach Scott King said.
For the first time in the series, Lethbridge opened the scoring in Game 4 when Tyson Zimmer scored 8:50 into the game.
Yager answered for the Warriors only 5:06 later with his first of the playoffs to tie the game at 1-1 after one.
The Warriors took the lead when Max Wanner’s shot flipped over the Hurricanes’ netminder and into the net only 5:15 into the second.
Warriors forward Robert Baco received a five-minute major a few minutes later, but Moose Jaw killed the penalty.
Hayden Smith tied the game back up, scoring for the Hurricanes with just one minute left in the middle frame.
The Warriors struck again early in the third when Lakovic scored the game-winning goal only 4:48 into the period.
Mateychuk would add some insurance later in the period and Yager sealed the win with an empty net goal in the final minute.
King said Yager’s line with Firkus and Martin Rysavy set the tone offensively on the road in the series.
“[Firkus] just with his stick, he’s so good at taking pucks away and [Yager] is able to find the back of the net a couple of times, so they were all good together,” he said.
Connor Ungar made 28 saves for his fourth straight win in the Warriors’ net.
“Without a doubt, he’s been our best player all season and when we got him back there, it’s pretty easy to trust him,” Yager said.
The Warriors will now await the results of the remaining Eastern Conference first round series to decide who they play in the second round.