Warriors

News

UPDATED: Warriors Fall In Preseason Opener

Warriors-Broncos-Aug26-09Noah Gregor bangs in a rebound past Travis Child during the second period on Tuesday at Mosaic Place.

The Moose Jaw Warriors aren’t coming away from their first preseason game disappointed, despite losing 4-3 in overtime to the Swift Current Broncos.

“We had over 40 shots on net, created lots of scoring chances and it’s the kind of hockey we’re trying to play, lots of plays using each other and not just giving the other team the puck,” said head coach Tim Hunter.  “I thought right through the lineup everyone played well.”

The Warriors held a 3-1 lead early in the third period, but Luca Leone scored back-to-back goals to tie the game before Tyler Steenbergen won the game for the Broncos just 34 seconds into overtime.

Moose Jaw was able to control the play through the first two periods and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone throughout the game, finishing with 43 shots on Swift Current goalie Travis Child.

Ryan Bowen opened the scoring for Moose Jaw 4:38 into the first period as he finished off a pass from Brett Howden for his first WHL goal.

“Howden made a great pass to me,” said Bowen.  “From the first time we played (together), we’ve always been able to just connect and find each other, so it’s been good.”

Howden finished with two assists in the win as he step up Bowen’s second goal of the night in the third period.

Noah Gregor also scored his first WHL goal midway through the second period when buried a feed from Jayden Halbgewachs, who was one of the Warriors that really stood out throughout the game.

Hunter came away impressed with the play of entire team in their first game of the season.

“That group of D back there passed the puck as well as any group of D that I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.  “They used each other, they got the puck in the forwards hands and they were really good on blue line, both five-on-five and on the powerplay.”

17-year-old defenceman Ryan Gardiner, who finished the season in Moose Jaw last year, played a strong all around game and said he went into the night trying to show the coaching staff that he can be counted on in all areas.

“I’m willing to throw the body around, I’m not afraid to hit or get hit,” he said.  “It’s my game plan to be physical and show them that I’m not going to back down.

“We battled throughout the game, we out played them and then they just got a lucky bounce on us.”

The game featured many players making their first WHL appearances, but it was also Hunter’s first WHL game.  He said it felt good to be back behind the bench.

“It was a little bit strange, I hadn’t been behind the bench in a while,” said the first-year Warriors head coach.  “It was just good to get behind the bench and get started and get going and get in my routine as well.”

There weren’t many performances to be disappointed with on the Warriors in the preseason opener and while it’s still early in the process, Hunter said there will be some tough decisions ahead.

“Everyone’s close and there’s a lot of guys that are going to make for tough decisions,” he said.  “I don’t think there was any one guy that stood out, but those are the decisions you want.  There was no clearcut top three or four young prospects, there was 19 guys that competed hard out there.”

The Warriors will return to the ice on Thursday night in Regina as they take on the Pats at the Cooperators Centre.Warriors-Broncos-Aug26-05Brody Willms looks through traffic before making a save during the first period against Swift Current on Tuesday.

Willms Wants To Improve

16-year-old goalie Brody Willms was solid between the pipes for the Warriors on Tuesday night, but he still sees room for improvement after giving up four goals against the Broncos.

“It was a really good game, back-and-forth, there’s a couple of goals that I want back, but there’s nothing you can do about it now,” said Willms after stopping 29 of 33 shots in Tuesday’s overtime loss.

This wasn’t Willms’ first WHL experience as he played in last year’s rookie game against the Broncos and also appeared in two regular season games with the tribe last season.

He said there’s still some getting use to when it comes to the skill of WHL players.

“With these older guys, the shots are coming in that much quicker,” said Willms.  “You’ve just got to be that much faster tracking the puck and getting your body in front of it.

“I think it’s good to get one game out of the way and kind of get more comfortable in the net and in this league and then on Thursday, come out even stronger.”

While Willms is highly thought of in the Warriors’ organization, he’s also in a tough spot at camp this year.  The tribe has two established goalies in front of him in 19-year-old Justin Paulic and Zach Sawchenko, who’s entering his 17-year-old season.

“I’m just trying to work hard and show that I belong here and I can play here,” he said.

Willms will be back in goal for the Warriors on Thursday in Regina.

Warriors Open Preseason Against Broncos

Warriors-TC2014-Bargar-Aug22Blake Bargar breaks into the offensive zone during Warriors training camp on the weekend at Mosaic Place.

There will be a lot of first for Moose Jaw Warrior players on Tuesday night.

The Warriors open the WHL Preseason schedule when they host the Swift Current Broncos for the annual rookie game between the two East Division rivals.

Moose Jaw will have a number players in the lineup making their WHL debuts on Tuesday night, including 2014 fourth overall pick Josh Brook, who’s stuck with the team through training camp.

“It’s very exciting,” he said following practice on Monday at Mosaic Place.  “I’m looking forward to seeing the speed of everyone else.”

Brook, who will be playing midget AAA with the Notre Dame Hounds this season, has looked strong throughout training camp and didn’t look out of place during main camp.

“Rookie camp started slow, but once main camp came around, I started to catch up,” said Brook.  “I like playing against the older guys, it pushes me a lot more.”

Blake Bargar also rose his game up during main camp, scoring five times in three main camp scrimmages before being held off the scoreboard during the Black and White game on Sunday night.

He’s looking forward to getting on the ice for his first WHL action.

“I’ve still got to prove against the older guys, they’re the best players I’ve ever played against,” said the 16-year-old Torrance, California native.

“I’m just going to have to play a fast game, go to the net hard and play physical.”

Bargar was able to do that throughout training camp and has impressed the Warriors staff.  He’s now has to carry that into the opening preseason game against the Broncos.

“A big part of my game is my competitiveness and how I keep going,” he said.  “I’ve worked really hard over the summer, so we’ll see what happens.”

Noah Gregor signed with the Warriors during training camp on Friday.  He was acquired by Moose Jaw in the Travis Brown deal with Victoria and didn’t disappoint during training camp.

Despite battling an injury, the 16-year-old played strong against the rookies and veterans.

“Overall I thought I had a strong camp, I showed the coaching staff what I had to offer,” said Gregor.  “I wish I would have got to play a little more, but I’m looking forward to this next week.”

Gregor said he’s happy to finally have signed his WHL standard player agreement with the Warriors and be focused now on trying to make the team.

“It took a little longer than most players, but I feel like I definitely made the right decision,” he said.  “I’m happy here in Moose Jaw and definitely excited.”

After leading the Alberta Midget AAA League in scoring as a 15-year-old, Gregor has a strong chance of cracking the Warriors roster, but he said he still needs to go out and prove he should be here.

“I just need to show them what I’m capable of,” said Gregor.  “I’ll try to use my speed to my advantage, I’m a good skater, I’ll try to use my hockey sense and just try to compete every shift.”

The Warriors and Broncos hit the ice at 7:00pm at Mosaic Place.  Admission to the game is a donation to the Journey To Hope in memory of Ethan Williams, a Warriors prospect who died just before training camp.

About $2,000 was raised on Sunday during the Black and White Intrasquad game.

Paradis Commits To Warriors

Colin Paradis has looked good throughout training camp for the Warriors and now he’ll get a chance to showcase himself some more during the WHL Preseason.

Paradis signed his WHL standard player agreement on Monday and committed to the Warriors.

The 2013 fourth round WHL Bantam pick missed a portion of the season last year with a collarbone injury, but has played well through camp with the Warriors.

He’ll make his WHL debut on Tuesday against the Broncos.

Progress On Display During Training Camp

Warriors-BlackWhite-Aug24-12014 CHL Import Draft pick Jiri Smejkal tries to cut in between Jayden Halbgewachs and another defender during Sunday's Black and White Intrasquad game at Mosaic Place. (Photo: Stephen Simon/MJ Warriors)

Two years of high draft picks and smart trading made for a competitive training camp for the Moose Jaw Warriors over the weekend.

The camp played out how many had expected it to as the young players pushed many of the returning players throughout the weekend with solid showings. The Warriors' front office and coaching staff are coming away impressed with what they saw in the camp.

“In general, all good, really impressed with the young guys,” said General Manager Alan Millar. “I thought some young guys, (Christos) Zinis and (Colin) Paradis in particular, who had injuries last year and we were wondering about their development, had real good camps.”

The Warriors wrapped up camp on Sunday afternoon with their annual Black and White Intrasquad game, where again the young, and new, players shined. Jayden Halbgewachs led the charge for Team Black, picking up a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win.

“I felt good as camp went on and I scored some goals now near the end and was able to make some nice plays,” said Halbgewachs, a former first round pick who is looking to make the team as a 17-year-old. “I'm pretty confident coming into this year, I worked hard over these last two summers to be a Moose Jaw Warrior.”

16-year-old forward Noah Gregor, along with Kolten Olynek and Jaimen Yakubowski, both acquired via trade during the offseason, scored the other goals for Team Black in the win. Brayden Point opened the scoring for Team White, but that was all they could muster.

Many veterans turned in strong camps like 19-year-old goalie Justin Paulic, 20-year-olds Tanner Eberle and Yakubowski and 19-year-olds Brandon Potomak and Austin Adam, but most of the talk was focused on the play of the young roster hopefuls.

“I'm impressed with the young guys and all in all, it was an encouraging camp,” said Millar. “It was the competitiveness that we wanted and we saw.

“We wanted this to be that next step in terms of starting to see the results of the decisions that we made the last couple of years as part of this process and the building of this team.”

After three days on the ice and four scrimmages, Millar came away wanting a bit more out of some other veteran players that might be on the bubble for roster spots this season, especially up front.

“There's some returning guys that have got to figure some things out pretty quick,” said Millar. “There's some guys here that took for granted the last couple of days of where we're at and don't quite understand the depth that we have and the ability of these young guys. We certainly have some returning players that need to be better, starting (Monday).”

Some decisions were made after Sunday's intrasquad game, but the real tough ones will come over the next few weeks as the team progresses through the preseason, which they open on Tuesday with a rookie game against the Swift Current Broncos.

Another Year of Development Pays Off

Jayden Halbgewachs and Ryan Gardiner both had shots at making the Warriors last year as 16-year-olds, but both players were sent back to midget AAA for another year of seasoning.

Both players are coming away happy with that experience and feel it made them better players in the long run.

“It's 100 per cent,” said Gardiner. “I got way better going back, got more ice (time) to develop and I'm happy with the decision.

“My overall game (improved). I got to work on the power play, PK and just my overall game.”

Gardiner went on to win the Manitoba Midget AAA League's Top Defenceman award and he said going back for another gave him more confidence coming into this camp.

“I definitely showed them that I could play in my defensive zone,” he said. “I wanted to show my offence as well, so this game I was able to step up and show my offence against the vets.”

After initial disappointment last year, Halbgewachs said he saw the positives in going back to the Regina Pat Canadians last year and he feels it helped him get more prepared to make the jump into the WHL this season.

“I got to be the best player on the ice and the best player on my team, so going back there helped out,” said Halbgewachs, who finished third in the league in scoring with 28 goals and 66 points in 42 games. The Regina native also got the chance to play in four games with the Warriors, picking up one assist.

“Getting called up for a few games last year helped out a lot,” he added. “You get a feel for the guys in the room, but also on the ice, the level of speed, which helped out coming into this year.”

Both Gardiner and Halbgewachs made strong cases during camp to find themselves on the Warriors' final roster.Warriors-TC2014-Adamyk-Aug22Goalie Mitchell Adamyk makes a nice poke check save during a rookie camp scrimmage.

Goaltending Strong Suit For Warriors

For the first time in a number of years, the Warriors aren't searching for a goaltender at back-to-back training camps and they can expect that to continue.

Justin Paulic made 30 saves in just over 30 minutes of work during Sunday's Black and White Intrasquad game as he looks to bounce back from struggle-filled 2013-14 season. He's followed up by Zach Sawchenko, who doesn't turn 17 until Dec. 30, and 16-year-old Brody Willms.

Mitchell Adamyk was the goalie that had everyone talking during camp however as the listed player made it through rookie camp and played strong during main camp as well.

“I'm pretty happy,” said the Winnipeg native. “The first game I was a little nervous, but then my confidence just kept going up.”

Adamyk stopped 12 of 13 shots during the intrasquad game to finish on a high note. He shot of suiting up for the Warriors are long with Sawchenko and Willms both ahead of him, but he's given the Warriors a nice problem to have and one they've been working on creating.

“You need depth in that area and you've got to have great goaltending to win,” said Millar, who stated he wanted to break the franchise trend of trading for experienced goaltending.

Nine Players Re-Assigned

Adamyk was one of nine players that the Warriors re-assigned after Sunday's intrasquad game.

15-year-old defencemen Marcus Kichton and Brandon Armstrong were also sent down, while 16-year-old Nick Leitner and 17-year-old Ben Shushkovskey won't break camp with the team.

On forward, the Warriors re-assigned 16-year-olds Tristin Langan and Jaxen Gemmell, as well as 17-year-olds Tanner Jeannot and Jake Leitner.

That leaves Moose Jaw with 34 players on their roster (three goalies, 11 defencemen and 20 forwards).

Proceeds From Games Donated To Charity

Admission from Sunday's Black and White game was donated to the Journey To Hope here in Moose Jaw in memory of Warriors prospect Ethan Williams. Williams died earlier this month when he committed suicide.

About $2,000 was raised through Sunday's game. Admission from Tuesday's preseason opener against the Swift Current Broncos will also be donated to the Journey To Hope.

Williams was drafted by the Warriors in the fifth round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. He was expected to be at this year's training camp and competing for a spot on the squad.

Progress On Display During Training Camp

Warriors-BlackWhite-Aug24-12014 CHL Import Draft pick Jiri Smejkal tries to cut in between Jayden Halbgewachs and another defender during Sunday's Black and White Intrasquad game at Mosaic Place. (Photo: Stephen Simon/MJ Warriors)

Two years of high draft picks and smart trading made for a competitive training camp for the Moose Jaw Warriors over the weekend.

The camp played out how many had expected it to as the young players pushed many of the returning players throughout the weekend with solid showings. The Warriors' front office and coaching staff are coming away impressed with what they saw in the camp.

“In general, all good, really impressed with the young guys,” said General Manager Alan Millar. “I thought some young guys, (Christos) Zinis and (Colin) Paradis in particular, who had injuries last year and we were wondering about their development, had real good camps.”

The Warriors wrapped up camp on Sunday afternoon with their annual Black and White Intrasquad game, where again the young, and new, players shined. Jayden Halbgewachs led the charge for Team Black, picking up a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win.

“I felt good as camp went on and I scored some goals now near the end and was able to make some nice plays,” said Halbgewachs, a former first round pick who is looking to make the team as a 17-year-old. “I'm pretty confident coming into this year, I worked hard over these last two summers to be a Moose Jaw Warrior.”

16-year-old forward Noah Gregor, along with Kolten Olynek and Jaimen Yakubowski, both acquired via trade during the offseason, scored the other goals for Team Black in the win. Brayden Point opened the scoring for Team White, but that was all they could muster.

Many veterans turned in strong camps like 19-year-old goalie Justin Paulic, 20-year-olds Tanner Eberle and Yakubowski and 19-year-olds Brandon Potomak and Austin Adam, but most of the talk was focused on the play of the young roster hopefuls.

“I'm impressed with the young guys and all in all, it was an encouraging camp,” said Millar. “It was the competitiveness that we wanted and we saw.

“We wanted this to be that next step in terms of starting to see the results of the decisions that we made the last couple of years as part of this process and the building of this team.”

After three days on the ice and four scrimmages, Millar came away wanting a bit more out of some other veteran players that might be on the bubble for roster spots this season, especially up front.

“There's some returning guys that have got to figure some things out pretty quick,” said Millar. “There's some guys here that took for granted the last couple of days of where we're at and don't quite understand the depth that we have and the ability of these young guys. We certainly have some returning players that need to be better, starting (Monday).”

Some decisions were made after Sunday's intrasquad game, but the real tough ones will come over the next few weeks as the team progresses through the preseason, which they open on Tuesday with a rookie game against the Swift Current Broncos.

Another Year of Development Pays Off

Jayden Halbgewachs and Ryan Gardiner both had shots at making the Warriors last year as 16-year-olds, but both players were sent back to midget AAA for another year of seasoning.

Both players are coming away happy with that experience and feel it made them better players in the long run.

“It's 100 per cent,” said Gardiner. “I got way better going back, got more ice (time) to develop and I'm happy with the decision.

“My overall game (improved). I got to work on the power play, PK and just my overall game.”

Gardiner went on to win the Manitoba Midget AAA League's Top Defenceman award and he said going back for another gave him more confidence coming into this camp.

“I definitely showed them that I could play in my defensive zone,” he said. “I wanted to show my offence as well, so this game I was able to step up and show my offence against the vets.”

After initial disappointment last year, Halbgewachs said he saw the positives in going back to the Regina Pat Canadians last year and he feels it helped him get more prepared to make the jump into the WHL this season.

“I got to be the best player on the ice and the best player on my team, so going back there helped out,” said Halbgewachs, who finished third in the league in scoring with 28 goals and 66 points in 42 games. The Regina native also got the chance to play in four games with the Warriors, picking up one assist.

“Getting called up for a few games last year helped out a lot,” he added. “You get a feel for the guys in the room, but also on the ice, the level of speed, which helped out coming into this year.”

Both Gardiner and Halbgewachs made strong cases during camp to find themselves on the Warriors' final roster.Warriors-TC2014-Adamyk-Aug22Goalie Mitchell Adamyk makes a nice poke check save during a rookie camp scrimmage.

Goaltending Strong Suit For Warriors

For the first time in a number of years, the Warriors aren't searching for a goaltender at back-to-back training camps and they can expect that to continue.

Justin Paulic made 30 saves in just over 30 minutes of work during Sunday's Black and White Intrasquad game as he looks to bounce back from struggle-filled 2013-14 season. He's followed up by Zach Sawchenko, who doesn't turn 17 until Dec. 30, and 16-year-old Brody Willms.

Mitchell Adamyk was the goalie that had everyone talking during camp however as the listed player made it through rookie camp and played strong during main camp as well.

“I'm pretty happy,” said the Winnipeg native. “The first game I was a little nervous, but then my confidence just kept going up.”

Adamyk stopped 12 of 13 shots during the intrasquad game to finish on a high note. He shot of suiting up for the Warriors are long with Sawchenko and Willms both ahead of him, but he's given the Warriors a nice problem to have and one they've been working on creating.

“You need depth in that area and you've got to have great goaltending to win,” said Millar, who stated he wanted to break the franchise trend of trading for experienced goaltending.

Nine Players Re-Assigned

Adamyk was one of nine players that the Warriors re-assigned after Sunday's intrasquad game.

15-year-old defencemen Marcus Kichton and Brandon Armstrong were also sent down, while 16-year-old Nick Leitner and 17-year-old Ben Shushkovskey won't break camp with the team.

On forward, the Warriors re-assigned 16-year-olds Tristin Langan and Jaxen Gemmell, as well as 17-year-olds Tanner Jeannot and Jake Leitner.

That leaves Moose Jaw with 34 players on their roster (three goalies, 11 defencemen and 20 forwards).

Proceeds From Games Donated To Charity

Admission from Sunday's Black and White game was donated to the Journey To Hope here in Moose Jaw in memory of Warriors prospect Ethan Williams. Williams died earlier this month when he committed suicide.

About $2,000 was raised through Sunday's game. Admission from Tuesday's preseason opener against the Swift Current Broncos will also be donated to the Journey To Hope.

Williams was drafted by the Warriors in the fifth round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. He was expected to be at this year's training camp and competing for a spot on the squad.

Warriors Open Preseason Against Broncos

Warriors-TC2014-Bargar-Aug22Blake Bargar breaks into the offensive zone during Warriors training camp on the weekend at Mosaic Place.

There will be a lot of first for Moose Jaw Warrior players on Tuesday night.

The Warriors open the WHL Preseason schedule when they host the Swift Current Broncos for the annual rookie game between the two East Division rivals.

Moose Jaw will have a number players in the lineup making their WHL debuts on Tuesday night, including 2014 fourth overall pick Josh Brook, who’s stuck with the team through training camp.

“It’s very exciting,” he said following practice on Monday at Mosaic Place.  “I’m looking forward to seeing the speed of everyone else.”

Brook, who will be playing midget AAA with the Notre Dame Hounds this season, has looked strong throughout training camp and didn’t look out of place during main camp.

“Rookie camp started slow, but once main camp came around, I started to catch up,” said Brook.  “I like playing against the older guys, it pushes me a lot more.”

Blake Bargar also rose his game up during main camp, scoring five times in three main camp scrimmages before being held off the scoreboard during the Black and White game on Sunday night.

He’s looking forward to getting on the ice for his first WHL action.

“I’ve still got to prove against the older guys, they’re the best players I’ve ever played against,” said the 16-year-old Torrance, California native.

“I’m just going to have to play a fast game, go to the net hard and play physical.”

Bargar was able to do that throughout training camp and has impressed the Warriors staff.  He’s now has to carry that into the opening preseason game against the Broncos.

“A big part of my game is my competitiveness and how I keep going,” he said.  “I’ve worked really hard over the summer, so we’ll see what happens.”

Noah Gregor signed with the Warriors during training camp on Friday.  He was acquired by Moose Jaw in the Travis Brown deal with Victoria and didn’t disappoint during training camp.

Despite battling an injury, the 16-year-old played strong against the rookies and veterans.

“Overall I thought I had a strong camp, I showed the coaching staff what I had to offer,” said Gregor.  “I wish I would have got to play a little more, but I’m looking forward to this next week.”

Gregor said he’s happy to finally have signed his WHL standard player agreement with the Warriors and be focused now on trying to make the team.

“It took a little longer than most players, but I feel like I definitely made the right decision,” he said.  “I’m happy here in Moose Jaw and definitely excited.”

After leading the Alberta Midget AAA League in scoring as a 15-year-old, Gregor has a strong chance of cracking the Warriors roster, but he said he still needs to go out and prove he should be here.

“I just need to show them what I’m capable of,” said Gregor.  “I’ll try to use my speed to my advantage, I’m a good skater, I’ll try to use my hockey sense and just try to compete every shift.”

The Warriors and Broncos hit the ice at 7:00pm at Mosaic Place.  Admission to the game is a donation to the Journey To Hope in memory of Ethan Williams, a Warriors prospect who died just before training camp.

About $2,000 was raised on Sunday during the Black and White Intrasquad game.

Paradis Commits To Warriors

Colin Paradis has looked good throughout training camp for the Warriors and now he’ll get a chance to showcase himself some more during the WHL Preseason.

Paradis signed his WHL standard player agreement on Monday and committed to the Warriors.

The 2013 fourth round WHL Bantam pick missed a portion of the season last year with a collarbone injury, but has played well through camp with the Warriors.

He’ll make his WHL debut on Tuesday against the Broncos.

UPDATED: Warriors Fall In Preseason Opener

Warriors-Broncos-Aug26-09Noah Gregor bangs in a rebound past Travis Child during the second period on Tuesday at Mosaic Place.

The Moose Jaw Warriors aren’t coming away from their first preseason game disappointed, despite losing 4-3 in overtime to the Swift Current Broncos.

“We had over 40 shots on net, created lots of scoring chances and it’s the kind of hockey we’re trying to play, lots of plays using each other and not just giving the other team the puck,” said head coach Tim Hunter.  “I thought right through the lineup everyone played well.”

The Warriors held a 3-1 lead early in the third period, but Luca Leone scored back-to-back goals to tie the game before Tyler Steenbergen won the game for the Broncos just 34 seconds into overtime.

Moose Jaw was able to control the play through the first two periods and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone throughout the game, finishing with 43 shots on Swift Current goalie Travis Child.

Ryan Bowen opened the scoring for Moose Jaw 4:38 into the first period as he finished off a pass from Brett Howden for his first WHL goal.

“Howden made a great pass to me,” said Bowen.  “From the first time we played (together), we’ve always been able to just connect and find each other, so it’s been good.”

Howden finished with two assists in the win as he step up Bowen’s second goal of the night in the third period.

Noah Gregor also scored his first WHL goal midway through the second period when buried a feed from Jayden Halbgewachs, who was one of the Warriors that really stood out throughout the game.

Hunter came away impressed with the play of entire team in their first game of the season.

“That group of D back there passed the puck as well as any group of D that I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.  “They used each other, they got the puck in the forwards hands and they were really good on blue line, both five-on-five and on the powerplay.”

17-year-old defenceman Ryan Gardiner, who finished the season in Moose Jaw last year, played a strong all around game and said he went into the night trying to show the coaching staff that he can be counted on in all areas.

“I’m willing to throw the body around, I’m not afraid to hit or get hit,” he said.  “It’s my game plan to be physical and show them that I’m not going to back down.

“We battled throughout the game, we out played them and then they just got a lucky bounce on us.”

The game featured many players making their first WHL appearances, but it was also Hunter’s first WHL game.  He said it felt good to be back behind the bench.

“It was a little bit strange, I hadn’t been behind the bench in a while,” said the first-year Warriors head coach.  “It was just good to get behind the bench and get started and get going and get in my routine as well.”

There weren’t many performances to be disappointed with on the Warriors in the preseason opener and while it’s still early in the process, Hunter said there will be some tough decisions ahead.

“Everyone’s close and there’s a lot of guys that are going to make for tough decisions,” he said.  “I don’t think there was any one guy that stood out, but those are the decisions you want.  There was no clearcut top three or four young prospects, there was 19 guys that competed hard out there.”

The Warriors will return to the ice on Thursday night in Regina as they take on the Pats at the Cooperators Centre.Warriors-Broncos-Aug26-05Brody Willms looks through traffic before making a save during the first period against Swift Current on Tuesday.

Willms Wants To Improve

16-year-old goalie Brody Willms was solid between the pipes for the Warriors on Tuesday night, but he still sees room for improvement after giving up four goals against the Broncos.

“It was a really good game, back-and-forth, there’s a couple of goals that I want back, but there’s nothing you can do about it now,” said Willms after stopping 29 of 33 shots in Tuesday’s overtime loss.

This wasn’t Willms’ first WHL experience as he played in last year’s rookie game against the Broncos and also appeared in two regular season games with the tribe last season.

He said there’s still some getting use to when it comes to the skill of WHL players.

“With these older guys, the shots are coming in that much quicker,” said Willms.  “You’ve just got to be that much faster tracking the puck and getting your body in front of it.

“I think it’s good to get one game out of the way and kind of get more comfortable in the net and in this league and then on Thursday, come out even stronger.”

While Willms is highly thought of in the Warriors’ organization, he’s also in a tough spot at camp this year.  The tribe has two established goalies in front of him in 19-year-old Justin Paulic and Zach Sawchenko, who’s entering his 17-year-old season.

“I’m just trying to work hard and show that I belong here and I can play here,” he said.

Willms will be back in goal for the Warriors on Thursday in Regina.

Gregor Signs With Warriors

Warriors-TC2014-Aug21-10Noah Gregor breaks up ice for the Warriors during a rookie camp scrimmage at Mosaic Place.

An important piece of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ future committed to the team on Friday afternoon.

16-year-old centre Noah Gregor, who led the Alberta Midget AAA League in scoring last year, signed his WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Warriors.

“From a hockey perspective, he’s a good player,” said General Manager Alan Millar.  “He’s a dynamic player, skates real well, his hockey IQ is very good, he has the potential to be a very good player in this league.”

Gregor was acquired from the Victoria Royals just before the WHL Trade Deadline last season when the Warriors dealt 19-year-old defenceman Travis Brown.  Gregor was the centrepiece of that deal on the Warriors side and they’re happy to finally have him committed to the team.

After the trade from Victoria, the Gregor family wanted to do their due diligences before signing with the Warriors, but the team never felt like it was in doubt.

“They wanted to get to know the organization, the people at Vanier and whatever great families do in terms of looking out for the best interests of their sons as they make the decision to come to Moose Jaw,” said Millar.

“We never felt that it was an issue about not playing in Moose Jaw or the Western Hockey League versus the NCAA,” he added.  “It was just about getting to know the organization and making sure it was the right fit, whether that was going to be at 16 or 17 years of age.”

Originally a third round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Gregor has turned some heads over the past season.  He led the Alberta Midget AAA League in scoring as a 15-year-old, putting up 21 goals and 51 points in 35 games.

He had a strong showing over the summer at the Hockey Canada Under-17 Selection Camp as well before putting together a strong first two days at Warriors’ training camp.

Getting the agreement signed will now allow Gregor to focus on making the Warriors, which he has a good shot of doing.

“You have to be signed to play in the rookie game on Tuesday night and we’re going into Regina for another game on Thursday, and we’re glad that he’s going to be a part of that lineup and the program moving forward,” said Millar.

Gregor will be out of the lineup for the start of main camp on Saturday as he continues to deal with a back/hip flexor injury.  He could be back on the ice for Sunday’s Black & White Intrasquad game at Mosaic Place.

Main camp is underway for the Warriors on Saturday with scrimmages at 10:00am and 4:00pm.  Both are free to the public.

Roster Hopefuls Shine At Warriors Camp

Warriors-TC2014-Gregor-Aug21Noah Gregor cuts between Dustin Perillat and Chase Fincaryk during Thursday night's scrimmage at Mosaic Place.

There wasn't many surprises on day one of Moose Jaw Warriors training camp at Mosaic Place.

After fitness testing in the morning, the rookies hit the ice for three practices and a scrimmage over the course of the afternoon and the performances were as expected with the highly touted players living up to their billing.

The rookie camp scrimmages continues on Friday with the team's on the ice at 10:00am and 6:00pm. The veterans have practices at 8:00am and 2:30pm before scrimmaging on the weekend.

Noah Gregor scored a highlight reel goal during Thursday's opening scrimmage, which his Team Black won 6-3 over Brett Howden's Team White. Not be outdone, Howden also found the back of the net during the scrimmage.

He split the defence and then beat goalie Issac Labelle between the legs to make it 2-0 for Team Black.

Gregor and Howden, two 16-year-old prospects, were going back-and-forth between the benches during the scrimmage as they attempt to push each other, but they also happen to be roommates at the camp.

“It's a lot of fun, there's a bit of a friendly rivalry,” said Gregor after Thursday night's scrimmage. “When we get home it will be all fine, but on the ice, it's some good competition.”

This is Gregor's first training camp with the Warriors after coming over in a the Travis Brown trade from Victoria. He said it felt good to get on the ice here in Moose Jaw.

“I was skating good, I felt good out there,” said Gregor, who led the Alberta Midget AAA League in scoring last year as a 15-year-old with 21 goals and 51 points in 35 games. “I thought our team played good for the first day of camp.”

This offseason has been busy for Gregor as he looks to make the jump into the WHL. He got some good exposure while taking part in the Hockey Canada Under-17 Selection Camp.

“That camp helped a lot,” he said. “You learn a lot of new things outside of the rink – mental preparation, how to train properly – so it was a great learning experience there.”

He's hoping to use that now as he looks to crack the Warriors lineup. Thursday's opening day was a good start.

The pace picked up as the opening scrimmage went on and each player was able to put their skills on display. Ethan Lazaro had a number of strong rushes up ice, but couldn't find the back of the net.

“I have to use my speed,” he said. “(The WHL) is a big fast league and I've been training with a lot of the Western guys during the summer, so I've been getting use to the size and the speed.”

Lazaro, a 17-year-old forward at his third Warriors training camp, is hoping that he can show enough over the next four days to crack the opening day roster for the tribe this season. In 35 games last year with the St. Albert Raiders, Lazaro posted 14 goals and 29 points.

He has a good shot at making the Warriors this year, but will need to unseat a veteran player to do it.

“I've put on a lot of weight and kept my speed up, so I'll do fine (come main camp),” said Lazaro. “My goal is to crack the roster this year and be a Warrior for the season.”

There are nine returning forwards from last year in addition to Jaimen Yakubowski and Kolten Olynek, who were acquired during off season trades. The likes of Lazaro, Gregor, Howden and Ryan Bowen will all be pushing hard for spots among the 13-14 forwards that the Warriors decided to carry.

Bowen – who hails from Chilliwack, BC – is confident that he'll be able to show enough moving from rookie camp to main camp to secure one of those roster spots.

“There are a lot of good players and I'm a good player too,” said Bowen. “They'll definitely push the pace (at main camp) because there's a lot of good players out there, so it will be good.”

Bowen split his time between the Okanagan Hockey Academy midget squad and prep squad last season, posting 20 goals and 53 points in 65 games. He's committed to playing with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL this season if it doesn't work out with the Warriors.

The size that Bowen has put on is noticeable off the ice and on. He said that was a focus for him during the offseason.

“A lot of people always said when I was younger that I was too small, but they don't say that anymore because I'm 6-foot-1 and 165, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what this brings,” said Bowen.

He made a number of stellar plays, but like Lazaro couldn't find the finish to beat former OHA teammate Brody Willms.

“When you get in tight, it's a lot harder to find the holes on the big goalies like this,” Bowen said. “You've just got to find the best opportunities that you have and try to put the puck there.”

The Warriors will trim down the roster after Friday night's scrimmage as they head into main camp on the weekend. The annual Black and White wraps up camp on Sunday at 4:00pm.

High Hopes To Open Warriors Camp

Warriors-Howden-Aug23Brett Howden skates the puck up ice during last year's training camp at Mosaic Place.

After back-to-back years of sitting and watching the playoffs, the Moose Jaw Warriors are hoping that everything falls back into place this year.

The Warriors will open their 2014 training camp on Thursday with fitness testing at YaraCentre, followed by rookie camp on the ice at Mosaic Place throughout the afternoon.

There's a sense of optimism around the team as they enter camp this year with a new head coach and a highly touted group of young players coming into camp this year looking to secure a spot on the team.

67 players will be hitting the ice throughout the camp and the Warriors are confident that they can find a playoff team among those players.

“We're pleased with where we're at,” said Warriors General Manager Alan Millar. “The guys have been rolling into town over the last couple of days, it looks like the guys have worked hard and we're looking forward to getting them on the ice.”

Following the Warriors' run to the Eastern Conference final three seasons ago, the team has spent the last two years trying to retool their team that lost a lot after that season. They've done that through the draft with players like Brett Howden and Ryan Bowen being added and through trades, bringing in the likes of Jayden Halbgewachs and Noah Gregor.

“We're hopeful and expecting that, coupled with the development of some of our 17 and 18-year-old players, that some of the fruits of our labours during the difficult times start to pay off in terms of some very good young players coming into our program,” said Millar.

“As much as we're still fairly young, we feel that we've got a good mix of some real good older players, specifically at the 20-year-old group.”

The Warriors' strength will be in goal as they have 19-year-old netminder Justin Paulic being pushed by Zach Sawchenko, who turns 17 in December, and 16-year-old Brody Willms.

There's also pieces to work with on the back end with Alexey Sleptsov, Reid Zalitach, Dallas Valentine, Tyler Brown and Spenser Jensen all returning.

The biggest battles will be in the forward group. “We have as many as 17-18 signed players that are eligible to play and competiting for 13-14 spots,” said Millar.

Howden leads the young group of forwards that are expected to come in this year and one, push the veterans for spots on the team and two, be big contributors this year for the tribe.

This will be Howden's second camp with the Warriors and after playing in five games with Moose Jaw last year, he's feeling more confident coming into this year's camp.

“I'm just excited to get this rookie camp going and move on from there,” said Howden. “I'm not looking too far ahead, just looking at rookie camp and then moving on past that.”

After being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, a lot of expectations were thrown on the shoulders of Quinton Howden's little brother. The younger Howden said he aiming to move out of the shadow of his brother and make a name for himself during this camp, and season.

“I'm excited to throw my name out there and let them know who Brett is,” said Howden. “I'm really excited for this camp and hopefully I can crack the squad and show them who I am.”

Howden will have a lot of expectations on him and a lot of eyes fixed on him during this camp. He's not taking any for granted and coming into the camp ready to work.

“I'm just trying to show off what I have and play well,” Howden said. “I was feeling really good by the end of the summer, I worked really hard and feel like I'm in the best shape that I've been in my whole life.”

The rookies will be on the ice for practices at 2:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:00pm on Thursday and then Team Black, led by Gregor and Willms, takes on Team White, with Howden and Bowen, at 7:00pm.

More on Training Camp:
Tim Hunter Era Begins For Warriors
Point Wants To Keep Rolling
Rodewald Hopes To Build Off Big Year
Eberle Ready For His Final WHL Season
Yakubowski Excited To Be A Warrior
Smejkal Adjusting To First Week In MJ

Tim Hunter Era Begins For Warriors

Warriors-Hunter-Jul17-1Tim Hunter during his introductory media conference in July.

The past month has been a crash course on the Moose Jaw Warriors for Tim Hunter.

The tribe's new head coach was hired for the job in mid-July and since then has been getting brought up to speed on the roster battles as the team prepares for training camp to start this week.

67 players are expected to report to training camp on Wednesday. Fitness testing kicks off camp on Thursday morning and then the rookies around the ice throughout the afternoon. The opening day wraps up with a scrimmage, 7:00pm at Mosaic Place.

“I love training camp, it's a great time of the year, everyone is enthusiastic and we're looking forward to a good season, and it starts at training camp,” said Hunter.

Just like the players, Hunter has had a busy past month in preparation for training camp as he's been getting brought up to speed on the returning players and the new players coming into the Warriors this season.

He spent time after being hired calling each player and introducing himself, while also trying to get a feel for the players coming into camp.

“The guys are excited for a clean slate, new start,” said Hunter. “It's been a disappointing last couple of years, but there's been a lot of work done by Mike Stothers and Alan Millar putting these guys in place and teaching them the right, so we're just going to build on that.”

Hunter got a first hand look at a few of the Warriors' young players in Calgary earlier this month, seeing Brett Howden, Noah Gregor and Brody Willms on the ice at the Hockey Canada Under-17 Selection Camp and Zach Sawchenko in action during the lead up to the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

During that time in Calgary, Hunter also sat down with General Manager Alan Millar and Assistant GM Rob MacLachlan.

“Tim and I have spoke right through our first meeting through to meetings (Monday) in terms of what our projections are, who we feel are competing for spots on the team and who are signed players are,” said Millar. “At the end of the day, Tim has a good idea of what we're building and he's excited and getting prepared to see the guys on the ice.”

So what will the Warriors look like under Tim Hunter?

“For me it all starts with hard work,” said Hunter. “You don't need any skill, you don't need any brains and you don't need any talent to work hard. Everyone can work hard and that's something that I'll expect from everyone.”

That hard work means Hunter wants to see the players coming into camp in tip top shape. He also going to be looking closely at what type of players each player is and how committed they are to hitting the ground running this year.

“We're looking for guys that compete hard for pucks, in all situations, not just offensively,” said Hunter. “Just smart hockey sense as well, guys that know the game, think the game and are easy to coach.”

The players and coach will have about a month to get acquainted with each other during camp and the preseason before the games start for real. Hunter expects there to be a feeling out process, but it's one that he's looking forward to.

“We'll give them a template of how we want them to play and we'll start off slow with that and get them up to speed,” said Hunter. “My way of doing things is foot on the gas as a coach and I hope they've got their foot on the gas as players.”Warriors-Gore-Dec15Bryson Gore last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. (file photo)

Gore Moving On From Warriors

When the Warriors released their training camp roster on Monday, there was a name noticeably missing from the 67 players that will be attending their camp.

Then came word on Tuesday that Bryson Gore had decided to stay at home in Lethbridge this year.

“In discussions over the summer, Bryson felt that it was important for him to be near home in Lethbridge,” said Alan Millar, Warriors' General Manager. “Great kid and has grown up a lot in the last year or so in terms of things that he's dealing with.”

Gore played two seasons with the Warriors, scoring 20 goals and 34 points in 137 career WHL games. The 19-year-old figured to be in a battle for a roster spot this year, but Millar reiterated that had nothing to do with the decision as it was purely based on family reasons and he's exploring his other hockey and university options.

“For Bryson, it's just not going to work for him moving forward in the WHL, we respect that and wish him all the best,” said Millar.

The Warriors have also released defenceman Royce Rossignol, who will be attending training camp with the Prince George Cougars, and Dawson Haines, who will be at the Victoria Royals camp.

More on training camp:
Warriors' Point Wants To Keep Rolling
Rodewald Hopes To Build Of Big Year
Eberle Ready For His Final WHL Season