Warriors Finishing Preseason With OTL
Moose Jaw forward Jaimen Yakubowski stopped in tight by Brandon goalie Logan Thompson. (Photo: Stephen Simon/MJ Warriors)
A see-saw battle Sunday entertained the Mosaic Place fans, but unfortunately the hometown Moose Jaw Warriors came up short, losing a tight game 3-2 in overtime to Brandon to end their 2014 WHL Preseason schedule.
Friday in Brandon the Warriors struggled out of the gates to create pressure and consistency, that wasn’t the case Sunday. The tribe pressured Brandon goalie Logan Thompson from all angles and held a 17-5 advantage on the shot clock in the opening period.
Moose Jaw got on to the scoreboard at 6:48 of the first, Ethan Lazaro worked hard behind the Brandon net and was then joined by Jaimen Yakubowski. The duo were able to fight the puck loose and eventually set up Brett Howden, who scored his first of the preseason.
The visitors made adjustments in the second period and were finally able to create a more consistent attack, shooting the Warriors 18-11 in the period.
Goalies Zach Sawchenko and Logan Thompson were sensational in the middle period, they combined for 29 saves in the frame, with a number of them coming on quality scoring opportunities.
Brandon was finally able to tie the game when Ryley Lindgren beat Sawchenko with a slap shot 1:03 in to the third period. Just over a minute later Blake Bargar blasted a high hard shot over Thompson to put the tribe back in the driver’s seat. The lead was short lived, at 3:56 Nolan Patrick created a turnover on a Warriors breakout attempt, Patrick’s initial shot was stopped but he was able to convert on the rebound to even the game at two.
Both teams had chances in the third period to pull ahead but neither was able to capitalize, which sent the game in to overtime. Just like the rest of the game, the teams exchanged opportunities in the extra period, and 18 seconds away from a shootout Brandon won a faceoff in the Moose Jaw line and set up Ryan Pilon for a shot that found the back of the net.
Moose Jaw was outshot 5-2 in overtime and 38-37 overall, they were 0-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. They finish the 2014 Preseason with a 1-3-2 record, they’ll now turn their sights to next Friday’s 2014 regular season opener in Swift Current, the Warriors home opener is September 20th against the Broncos.
Warriors Fall In Brandon
Scott Cooke carries the puck behind the net during preseason action with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Special teams played a huge role in the game Friday, Brandon scored three power play goals and once shorthanded, handing the Moose Jaw Warriors a 6-2 loss at Westman Place.
Justin Paulic had a busy first period for the Warriors as the Wheat Kings tossed 15 shots at the Moose Jaw net. Paulic was up to the task, denying the Wheat Kings on a number of scoring opportunities, including a breakaway from Rihards Bukarts and a shot from Jesse Gabrielle on an odd-man rush.
The Warriors ran in to penalty problems throughout the opening period, in total handing Brandon three power plays. Moose Jaw’s penalty kill was sharp for the most part, but with 18 seconds left in the first and Brandon back on the man advantage, rookie defenceman Kale Clague snuck off the point, jumped on a loose puck on top of the crease and scored to give the home team first period lead.
Paulic was once again tested early in the second period, the Wheat Kings were able to spring Tyler Coulter for a breakaway. Moose Jaw’s veteran goaltender stacked the pads on the Brandon forward, which ignited the Warriors bench.
Moose Jaw found their legs and started to dictate the pass and pressure the Brandon net. Noah Gregor created a turnover eight minutes in to the second period, the puck came to Jayden Halbgewachs along the high Brandon right wall and his shot was deflected by Brandon Potomak, who scored his first of the pre-season to tie the game at one.
Brandon’s special teams then went to work again and at 11:51, Ryley Lindgren scored on the power play, then four minutes later on a shorthanded penalty shot Braylon Shmyr gave the hometown team a two-goal lead.
With just over three minutes remaining in the second, Ben Duperreault won an offensive zone faceoff back to Christos Zinis, his shot was stopped by goalie Logan Thompson, but Scott Cooke was on the doorstep for the rebound and scored his first of the pre-season to pull the tribe back to within one.
Brandon rookie Nolan Patrick brought the lead back up to two goals just three minutes in to the third and then Rihards Bukarts scored back-to-back goals just over two minutes apart to make it a 6-2 game.
The hole was too high for the Warriors to climb out of despite battling to the final buzzer. Brandon had a 15-5 advantage on the shot clock in the third and 42-20 overall. Moose Jaw was 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill.
The tribe will skate Saturday morning and then wrap up the 2014 WHL Pre-Season Sunday with a rematch against the Wheat Kings, 4pm at Mosaic Place. Catch all the action on Country 100 starting with the PreGame Show at 3:55pm.
Warriors Open Weekend In Brandon
20-year-old LW Jaimen Yakubowski making his Warriors debut last Saturday at Mosaic Place.
It's the final chance to impress for players on the Moose Jaw Warriors roster as the team closes out the WHL Preseason this weekend with a home-and-home series against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Warriors hit the ice in Brandon on Friday night and then return home for a Sunday afternoon game to close out their preseason schedule.
“We've got a good team shaping up here, lots of young guys battling spots still, so far so good,” said 20-year-old forward Jaimen Yakubowski. “We're just going to keep working hard going into the regular season and hopefully get off to a good start.”
Last Saturday's 5-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos was the first game action that Yakubowski got in a Warriors' uniform. He was acquired in a trade with Seattle just before training camp and after watching the first three preseason games, he suited up to end last weekend's home-and-home with the Broncos.
“It was even a little nerve racking for me as a 20-year-old to get out there and play a game after a long summer,” said Yakubowski. “It felt great to get out there, make some hits, make some plays and get a win.”
The Warriors will be counting on Yakubowski to provide the physical punch in their forward group this season. The five-foot-ten 201-pound winger has racked up at least 100 penalty minutes in each of his three seasons in the WHL.
“I like to lead on the ice by making some good hits and making the right play, and just doing whatever I can to help the team win in all,” he said.
It will be a bit younger and less experienced lineup for the Warriors this weekend with four players – Brayden Point, Jack Rodewald, Tanner Eberle and Dallas Valentine – away at NHL camps. That will put Yakubowski more into the spotlight to lead the team against the Wheat Kings.
“I'll just keep doing what I'm doing,” he said. “I've just got to keep talking to the young guys, maybe a little more because those guys obviously do a lot. I've got to get everyone's energy up and get them excited for the season, there's a lot of other guys doing that as well, so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and things will shape up.”
The Warriors have posted a 1-2-1-0 record so far in the preseason with three games against the Broncos and one against the Pats. They head into Brandon on Friday night looking to make a statement before the season against the CHL's third ranked team.
“As much as people say (preseason games) don't mean anything, they still do, you can definitely send a message for the regular season,” said Yakubowski. “They'll see what kind of team we have, the way we play a bit and hopefully get them on their toes a bit for the regular season.
“We're not going there to lose, so we're going there to win, have fun and just get the team ready for the regular season,” he added.
The Warriors and Wheat Kings hit the ice on Friday night at 6:30pm. You can tune into all the action on Country 100 for the inaugural broadcast of the 2014-15 season. Voice of the Warriors, James Gallo, will have all the action starting with the pre-game show at 6:25pm.
Puck drops on Sunday's game at Mosaic Place at 4:00pm, which will also be carried live on Country 100.
Point & Eberle Ready To Impress
Brayden Point and Tanner Eberle have been entertaining fans in Moose Jaw for a few years now, but they're going to introduce themselves to new fan bases over the weekend as they attend NHL training camps.
Point has made his way down to Tampa Bay for Lightning training camp after being selected in the third round of this June's NHL Entry Draft. Eberle is heading to his second Montreal Canadiens rookie camp after turning heads as a free agent invite last year.
Point Worth The Pick
Brayden Point has gotten use to playing against players that are bigger and older than he is, as he's been doing it all his life.
That should make it easy on him when he hits the ice with the Tampa Bay Lightning this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee for a rookie tournament.
“Something that you play hockey for is going to an NHL camp and having a chance to make a good impression,” said the Moose Jaw Warriors' 18-year-old star forward.
Point was selected by the Lightning with the 79th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He attended the team's developmental camp over the summer and showed the Lightning that he was worth the pick, but now he's looking to do it against the best players in the organization.
“Speed was obviously a jump when you get to development camp and I expect a bigger jump once main camp starts,” he said. “I did skate with some AHL guys in the summer and they're definitely bigger and stronger, so they hit harder, but it's something that I feel like I can adjust to and I'll just try to use my head out there.”
Last season with the Warriors, Point showed that he was among the elite players in major junior as he scored 36 goals and 91 points in 72 games. He finished the year as the highest scoring 1996-born player in the Canadian Hockey League.
He knows that he has the skill to compete with the players at Lightning camp and it's now just about going out and proving that he can.
“I'm just going to try to make simple plays and the right play all the time,” he said. “It doesn't always have to be fanciest play, but as long as I'm making a lot of good little plays, that's what I'm looking forward to do.”
It was a busy summer for Point as he attended both the Lightning camp and then suited up for Team Canada at the World Junior summer camp. He's hoping to use all the experience gained at those camps this week.
“I've had a lot of different coaches and the opportunity to talk to a lot of people over the summer, they all have different knowledge and different ideas on how to play, so there's a lot of little things that I picked up and that's all things that I can apply,” he said.
While Point will be a long shot to crack the Lightning roster as an 18-year-old, he said just soaking up the experience will be big.
“I'm just going to try to learn as much as I can, I can't set too many personal goals on what's going to happen because I've never been, so I don't really know how it goes,” he said. “Just enjoy the experience and try to take as much knowledge as I can from it.”
Point and the Lightning play their first game at the Nashville rookie tournament on Saturday against the Predators at 2:30pm. They're on the ice against Boston on Sunday and finish up by facing the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Eberle Hoping Second Times A Charm
Tanner Eberle was pretty green heading into his first NHL training camp last year with the Montreal Canadiens. He was invited on short notice and was taking part in his first professional camp.
“Last year I hoped on the bus full of all their drafted guys and I'm going to be honest, I was pretty nervous,” he said. “I feel this year I'm more comfortable with everything, I know where everything is, I know what to ask for, so I feel like I should be in more of a comfort zone there, so it should help me play better.”
Once he hit the ice last year, Eberle didn't look out of place as he was deemed one of the more impressive players at the camp, despite being an undrafted invitee. He scored three goals in three scrimmages and did well enough to earn an invite back this year.
“I'm looking to go there and give another good effort,” said Eberle. “I know I had a good showing there last year and I feel this year will be a little bit easier knowing what the camp entails. I'm also 20 years old this year, so I'm going to be just as old as some of the guys there, so I feel like I've got a pretty good shot this year.”
A strong camp for Eberle could lead to a contract with the Canadiens and a little longer stay at camp this time around. As a 20-year-old, the Canadiens can sign Eberle to their American Hockey League team.
“It's always in the back of my mind knowing that I can play in the AHL this year and that's something that I'm really trying to shoot for this year,” he said. “I've gotten a lot bigger, so I feel like I could play the AHL game. I'm going to go there and try to get a spot on the roster.”
Going in as an undrafted player will force Eberle to outperform the drafted players at the camp, but that's something he knows he'll have to do and is confident that he can do.
“I thought I did a pretty good of it last year,” Eberle said. “Anytime you're not a drafted player, it's just a tryout and I've got something to prove, so I'm just going to try to turn some heads.”
Eberle will start that on Friday during fitness testing. They hit the ice for their first practices on Saturday and then have scrimmages on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Warriors Head To Traverse City
The Moose Jaw Warriors will be without four key players for their final two preseason games this weekend as they head off to take part in NHL training camps.
Dallas Valentine and Jack Rodewald are headed to Traverse City for the annual NHL Prospects Tournament, while Brayden Point is travelling to Tampa Bay for Lightning rookie camp before heading to a prospects tournament in Tennessee and Tanner Eberle will be at Montreal Canadians' rookie camp for the second straight year.
Late Chance For Rodewald
Up until last week, Jack Rodewald had accepted the fact that he may have to wait until after his 20-year-old season before getting a shot at professional hockey.
That all changed late last week when the Moose Jaw Warriors forward was informed by his agent that he'd be getting a chance to head to the Traverse City Tournament with the Buffalo Sabres.
“It's definitely a big relief,” said Rodewald. “You hear all summer about different guys getting invites right after the draft and it's out of your control, but it was definitely nice to get the call.”
This will be the Winnipeg native's first chance to attend an NHL camp after a breakout season in 2013-14. Rodewald saw his production jump from seven goals and 14 points in 56 games the year before with Regina to 28 goals and 55 points in 58 games last season with the Warriors.
“It's a really good opportunity for me,” he said. “I'm just going to go in and try to play my game and show them what I'm all about.”
Rodewald developed into a skilled power forward last season and he's hoping to use his size and speed to make an impression in Traverse City.
“It's just about what I did last year, it's taking pucks to the net, it's finishing checks, it's using my speed to my advantage and just trying to use my linemates to my advantage to get the puck to the net,” said Rodewald.
While Rodewald will be suiting up for the Sabres at the tournament, there will be seven other NHL teams in attendance that Rodewald can try to impress in an effort to move to the next level.
“I'm going there to prove to the Buffalo Sabres that I'm something that they could use, but at the same time, it's nice to know that there's going to be a lot of scouts there and you can try to impress everybody,” he said.
While other players, like Rodewald's linemate Brayden Point, have been preparing for their first NHL camp all offseason, Rodewald is a bit behind the eight-ball. He said that doesn't worry him.
“I've put in a lot of work over the offseason, so there's not much I have to get ready for,” he said. “There's going to be a lot bigger guys there, it's going to be a little bit different playing against a few grown men, so it's going to be interesting to see them.
“Whenever you're going into something unfamiliar, there's going to be a bit of nerves, but after the first practice, they should be gone.”
Rodewald will hit the ice with the Sabres against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday afternoon. He will square off with teammate Dallas Valentine and the New York Rangers on Saturday.
“I talked to Dallas about it and he's excited as well,” said Rodewald. “There's a bunch of other guys there that I know, Cody Beach and Joel Edmundson are going to be there for St. Louis, as well Dryden Hunt will be there with Carolina, I roomed with him for two years in Regina, so hopefully I can face off with them.”
Valentine Ready For Opportunity
Dallas Valentine already has one NHL camp under his belt after attending the Minnesota Wild Development Camp over the summer. He'll be trading in the Wild green for Rangers' blue this weekend.
The 18-year-old Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman was invited to take part in the Traverse City Tournament with the New York Rangers and will be suiting up with them during the tournament.
“I'm pretty excited, a little bit nervous still, but I'll get over it once I get there,” said the Lousana, AB native.
Valentine spent eight days at the Wild camp over the summer, but wasn't invited to join the team at the Traverse City Tournament, so he jumped at the chance to take part with the Rangers.
He said getting to experience an NHL camp over the summer has really prepared him for what he'll be seeing over the next five days.
“Now that I've seen the type of calibre of hockey players and the speed of the game, I just feel that I've got to bring a little more intensity to New York and be more consistent with my play,” he said.
“All the guys are bigger and stronger and I know I'm there (with them), so it's just about being more consistent and going out every shift and giving it my all.”
Valentine felt that he handled himself well physically with Minnesota and can now try to assert his game a bit more this time around.
“I'm just going to go there and be defensively sound and reliable back there,” said Valentine. “I'm not going to do anything that I can't do that's out of my game, but I'm just going to play how I normally play.”
Valentine will hit the ice with the Rangers on Friday night against the Dallas Stars. He then takes on Rodewald and the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Click here for a full tournament schedule.
Warriors Focused On Players' Mental Health
The Moose Jaw Warriors take part in the Cycle Around the Globe for World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday at YaraCentre.
Mental health, depression and suicide aren't the typical topics in a major junior hockey locker room, but the Moose Jaw Warriors are working to break down those barriers to ensure the well being of their players.
The Warriors were touched by suicide over the offseason with the death of prospect Ethan Williams in August.
He was the focus for 11 players as they took part in the Cycle Around the Globe for World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday, which saw them cycle for an hour at YaraCentre as part of the worldwide initiative.
“A lot of the guys in here and the younger guys, we knew Willy pretty well and that was obviously a huge loss,” said 19-year-old Torrin White. “It's important for us to get out in the community and just little events like this to spread awareness are really important.”
Williams had attended training camp with the Warriors and also played in one regular season game with the tribe. He was one of their highly touted prospects after being selected in the fifth round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
“We always want to show our support to a cause like this, but especially with what happened to Williams over the summer, it's really important to get out and support the cause,” said Tanner Eberle, a 20-year-old forward.
“I've been to camp with him three years in a row, so obviously all the guys knew him and I'm sure it hit all the guys pretty hard when they found out.”
The challenge for the Cycle Around the Globe initiative was to collectively cycle the circumference of the globe – 40,075-kilometres – throughout the day with different groups taking part here in Moose Jaw and around the world, all with a goal of raising awareness for suicide prevention.
“This important for us, it was a great job by James (Gallo, Warriors communications manager) bringing this up to us and everyone agreed that we wanted to do it,” said White.
“(Suicide) has been brought up in the room now, everyone is aware of it and just little things like this, just coming out here and having fun, that's important for the issue.”
“It's front and centre for us right now, it's near and dear to our hearts, but we want to be a part of these programs and help out anyway we can,” added General Manager Alan Millar.
“There's really two levels on that front, I talk about the community and how important it is to be a part of it, but it's always an important part of the development of our players as people and that they understand these initiatives and how important they are to sending messages to young people.”
Major junior hockey is made up of mostly teenagers and a lot of pressure is put on them to perform on the ice, but many are also focused on schooling off the ice.
As an organization, the Warriors have been working to put in place a support system for their players through building a relationship with Saskatchewan Mental Health to make sure their players are able to deal with the pressures put on them.
“It's so important in our business with young people in a very, very competitive environment where they have a bad game, they might not make the team, or they may be a scratch, our players understanding that it's okay, there's people to talk to is important for us,” said Millar.
“We've come so far as a team, as the WHL, as the CHL, from everything to concussion testing to drug awareness to these types of initiatives to surrounding our players with the right people, the right support and we're working in the right direction.”
The Warriors' players feel like the support they get from their teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization goes a long way to helping them deal with the day-to-day pressures of playing major junior hockey.
“We have a really good group of guys here and if you ever need something, there's always tons of people to help you,” said Eberle. “Everyone is lending a helping hand and anytime you need something, it's always there for you.”
“It's a long season away from home for some of the guys for the first time, so just the team aspect and with the community behind you, coaches, billets, parents, it's really important,” added White.
As the Warriors continue to put more support systems in place for their players, the team will be holding a Safe Talk program with Saskatchewan Mental Health next month to better educate their players on mental health and depression.
“There's always things we can do and we're working in the right direction,” added Millar. “We get caught up in the competitiveness of the game, the wins and losses, those are important we understand that, but we have to take a step back every once in a while and look at players' development and at the same time, have a real understanding that they're 16, 17, 18 years old and you can forget that.”
Gregor Finding His Way In Preseason
Noah Gregor stops near the bottom of the circles against the Broncos in Swift Current last Friday.
There was a lot of talk surrounding Noah Gregor heading into Moose Jaw Warriors training camp and so far, the 16-year-old forward hasn't disappointed.
Gregor was acquired by the Warriors, along with two third round picks, in the Travis Brown trade. The picks were big, but Gregor was the centrepiece of the deal.
The 2013 third round WHL Bantam Draft pick was in the process of winning the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League scoring title when the trade was going down and he came into training camp with the Warriors this year ready to compete for a roster spot.
Gregor locked that up with a strong training camp and has now been trying to find his footing at the major junior level over four preseason games.
“I'm having a lot of fun first off,” said Gregor after practice on Wednesday. “I'm playing good and I'm feeling more comfortable over the four games.”
In four preseason games, Gregor has potted two goals and was playing on the top line alongside Brayden Point and Jack Rodewald in Swift Current last Friday. The Beaumont, AB native fit in well on the left side of that line.
“It's pretty easy to play with those guys,” he said. “You give them the puck and they'll give it back, so it's pretty easy and a lot of fun too.”
The trio pulled off a number of highlight reel plays, but couldn't finish. There was a couple of instances where Gregor had an opportunity to shoot, but past up to his older linemates.
“A couple of times, I felt like I had the right play, but just couldn't execute,” he said. “I feel like I'll get better once the season gets going.”
Over the course of the four preseason games, Gregor has flashed the skill that had the Warriors' brass excited when they traded for him. He feels like he's becoming more comfortable playing in the WHL as the regular season approaches.
“After those two Swift (Current) games, I'm feeling more confident and ready for the Brandon weekend,” said Gregor.
“It's way faster and guys are bigger. That the main thing is just the speed, but I'm adjusting to the speed and I'll be good.”
Over the past week, Gregor has also started school at Vanier Collegiate and said he's had to adjust to the WHL life of going from school right to practice.
“It's a pretty hectic day, school in the morning and then straight to the rink,” he said. “It's a lot of fun with the guys and getting to know the guys more here, so it's a lot of fun.”
Gregor and the Warriors have two preseason games left on the schedule to get ready for the regular season.
“I just want to build on those last two Swift games, I thought my confidence is getting better, so I just want to build off that and just have a good two games,” said Gregor.
The Warriors head to Brandon on Friday and then host the Wheat Kings on Sunday afternoon to end the preseason. You can catch both games live on Country 100 for the inaugural broadcasts of the year. Voice of the Warriors, James Gallo will have all the action, starting at 6:55pm from Westman Place in Brandon on Friday.
Jensen Embracing Leadership Role
Warriors 19-year-old D Spenser Jensen in action last season.
The Moose Jaw Warriors' defence isn't bursting with big names like Rielly, McIlrath, or Boychuk, but they're hoping that collectively as a unit they can get the job done.
“We all bring something a little different to the table,” said 19-year-old defenceman Spenser Jensen. “We have a little bit of everything, which is what teams need and that's good for us.”
Jensen along with Austin Adam and Dallas Valentine will provide the size, while Alexey Sleptsov and Reid Zalitach will bring the skill to the Warriors defensive core. Tyler Brown will also have a bigger role this season.
“We've got some big guys that can crash and then we have some skilled guys like Sleptsy and Zally, they shoot the puck and pass the puck nicely,” said Jensen.
The Warriors currently have eight defencemen on their roster after 17-year-old Dustin Perillat was reassigned to the SJHL's Flin Flon Bombers on Tuesday. That leaves the team with two 19-year-olds, three 18-year-olds and three 17-year-olds heading into the season.
All but two have WHL experience, while five were on the Warriors roster last year.Josh Uhrich was traded by the Warriors to Saskatoon on Monday, click here for the latest.
Among that group, Jensen will be leaned on to be more of a leader this year with the likes of Jesse Forsberg and Travis Brown gone now. He said he feels like he's ready to take on a bigger leadership role.
“This is my fourth year in the league now, I've played here and Medicine Hat, so I know what the league's all about now,” he said. “I know what it takes to be ready for games in the dub and playing all games too, a 72-game season is a pretty big jump for the younger guys.”
Getting to be the old guy in the locker room is something that Jensen is also looking forward to.
“I've been playing (in the WHL) since I was 16, so I've always been the younger guy out there,” he said. “This is my chance to step up and be a little bit of a leader back there.”
Jensen and many of the Warriors' veterans got their first chance to hit the ice in game action over the weekend as they took part in Moose Jaw's home-and-home with the Swift Current Broncos.
Jensen hit the ice on Saturday at Mosaic Place for the Warriors' 5-2 win over the Broncos and said it felt good to finally get back out there.
“I thought I was pretty good, got my feet wet,” he said. “I was a little rusty, but that's like everyone out there. Team-wise, we came together very well on Saturday and played a good team game.”
During the second period on Saturday, Jensen's off-season training was put to the test during a shift spent mostly inside the Warriors' zone. He said it was a little too early in the season for a lung-burner like that.
“It seemed like every time the puck went up we couldn't quite get it out or quite get it deep enough in their end for me to get off the ice,” Jensen said. “I probably lost a pound of fat that one shift, so I'll take it, but I don't like doing that too often.”
The Warriors have their final two preseason games on the way this weekend and Jensen is looking forward to getting back out there again.
“It's about fine tuning our game,” he said. “We've got to put all the pieces together, we've got two games against a pretty good team, so it should be a good test for us.”
The Warriors face off with the Brandon Wheat Kings on the road Friday and then return home on Sunday afternoon for the preseason finale for both teams. The regular season opens Sept. 19.
Warriors Deal Uhrich To Blades
Josh Uhrich in action this past Friday in Swift Current during the Warriors' 3-1 loss against the Broncos.
The Moose Jaw Warriors traded away another struggling veteran forward on Monday as their roster continues to take shape.
18-year-old forward Josh Uhrich was traded to the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
Uhrich was originally drafted by the Warriors in the second round, 33rd overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. He played in 126 regular season games over the past two seasons with the Warriors, registering ten goals, 24 points and 195 penalty minutes.
In 68 games last season, Uhrich had nine goals and 20 points.
This is the second trade in three days that the Warriors have swung with a East Division rival after sending 18-year-old forward Colton McCarthy to Prince Albert on Saturday for a 2016 sixth round pick.
The Warriors still have 16 forwards on their roster heading into the final weekend of preseason action, meaning they will still be trimming about three players from that group before the regular season starts.
Their next preseason game is coming up on Friday when they travel to Brandon to take on the Wheat Kings. The two teams finish off their exhibition schedules against each other on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place.
Warriors' White Primed For Breakout Season
Torrin White in action last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors at Mosaic Place.
Everything is lining up for a breakout year for Torrin White.
After battling injuries in his two seasons in the league, the Moose Jaw Warriors' forward went into last year focusing on staying healthy. He did that, playing in all-72 games.
Now his goal is to take the next step in other areas of his game. “With the work that I've put in this summer and the right opportunity, this could be a good year for myself and the team,” said the 19-year-old forward earlier this week.
“My main goal going into last season was to stay healthy and play all the games and getting stronger in the summer and training all summer was a huge part of that, so I just did the same and then some.”
White had a solid season last year, posting 16 goals and 36 points, while also being the Warriors' top penalty killer and a drastically underrated shot blocker. After putting on some more muscle in the offseason, he's hoping that he can improve on those career-highs set last year.
“I had a great summer, I'm in the best shape I've been and the most ready I've been,” he said. “After I get a couple of exhibition games in, I'll be ready to go.”
The Warriors will return to game action on Friday night in Swift Current against the Broncos and it will be the first time for the veterans to see action in the preseason after mostly rookies played in the first two games last week.
White has been practicing on a line with Jaimen Yakubowski and Jiri Smejkal, which is an interesting combo as all three bring different skill sets to the table. White plays strong defensively and has solid playmaking ability, which works with Smejkal's passing skills, while Yakubowski bring grit and physicality to the trio.
“I really enjoyed playing with those two,” said White. “Regardless of who I'm playing with this year, we're going to have a little bit of everything. It will be interesting to see, once we get the set line combinations, what we've got.”
The team has been on the ice for a little over two weeks now after training camp and two preseason games. White has been impressed with what he's seen out of the team so far this year.
“It's been good so far, it's been a lot of fun, the practices are high intensity and we mix some fun in there,” White said. “We've been trying out different line combinations and even with the guys that we've got here right now, we've got a good looking team.”
The time on the ice over the past few weeks has also allowed the players to get use to new head coach Tim Hunter and White said there's a renewed feeling of optimism around the team, and in the locker room, entering the year.
“It's for sure different, it's enjoyable, the guys like coming to the rink and we get a lot out of practice,” he said. “There's more energy and guys want to come to the rink.
“Obviously it's going to take a while to get adjusted to coach's new systems and strategies, but by the time September 19th rolls around, we'll be ready to go.”
The Warriors still have four preseason games to go before the season opener. They're in Swift Current on Friday and then host the Broncos on Saturday for a weekend home-and-home series.
Warriors Season Tickets Ready... A reminder to fans that Warriors season tickets are ready for pick up starting Thursday morning. The Warriors office will be open from 9:00am until 6:00pm Thursday and Friday, as well as from 9:00am until 7:30pm on game day Saturday for fans to pick up their tickets.
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