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Point Keeps Getting Better for Warriors

Warriors Point Oct15Warriors captain Brayden Point had 38 goals and 87 points in 60 games this season.

Brayden Point's exploits on the ice are well known. He's led the Moose Jaw Warriors over the past three seasons and put up some historic numbers.

This season saw another side of Point come more to the forefront as he showed off his leadership abilities after being named captain at the start of the season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick led by example to start, but developed into a more vocal leader as the season progressed, culminating in the Warriors' push for the playoffs at the end of the season.

Warriors head coach Tim Hunter feels that Point's experience with Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship helped him develop into a well rounded leader for the second half of the season.

“For Brayden to go and experience what he did at the World Junior Championships was tremendous and to follow that up by coming back here to play some good hockey,” said Hunter. “He learned from some great leaders at the World Juniors, so it's a really exciting time for him and I look forward to the next step with Brayden Point.”

Point continues to put up outstanding numbers for the Warriors. He set a new career-high in goals with 38 this season and his 87 points came within four points of his career-high despite playing 12 less games this season.

The Calgary, AB native was especially effective since returning from the World Juniors as he posted 43 points in 31 games over the final three months of the regular season. He scored in 13 of his final 14 games to end the regular season.

“I thought I had a pretty good yea, obviously there's some things that you want to do better throughout the year, but overall it was good,” said Point. “The World Junior experience was awesome and now I've just got to do it all again next year.”

As the accolades on the ice continue to pour in, Point is proud of the way he was able to develop as a leader for the Warriors this season in his first as captain.

“At the start of the year, it was a little nerve-racking, obviously there's more pressure, but as the year moved on, I was able to embrace it more and I felt I was more vocal in the room,” said Point. “It's definitely something that I'll try to keep learning, but going up at the next level and seeing how those guys play and seeing the leaders there, hopefully I can learn something.”

The Warriors, and Point, were blessed with having three 20-year-olds that brought plenty of experience to the table and all three served as assistant captains during the season. Hunter said they were key for helping Point in his first season as captain.

“As a coach I couldn't have asked for three 20-year-olds to help Brayden,” said Hunter. “They're all different guys, they all played differently and they were able to help (Point) with all their experience and all the different attributes that they bring to the table.”

Point and the Warriors are hoping that the experience that he and the team gained throughout the season will help them as they look to return to the post-season in 2015-16.

“We've got a great group of young guys, we've got two good young goalies and we were missing Noah Gregor, who's another great young player for us, so he'll definitely help us,” said Point. “They played well and they're going to be another older and another better, so it's looking good.”

Draft Lottery on Wednesday... The Moose Jaw Warriors will be keeping a close eye on Calgary on Wednesday as the WHL holds their annual draft lottery. The Warriors hold two picks in the top-six, theirs and the Kamloops Blazers' acquired in the Joel Edmundson trade. The lottery goes at 3:00pm on Wednesday. Follow @MarcSmith18 on Twitter for updates.

Warriors' 20-Year-Olds Wrap-Up Stellar Careers

Warriors 20yos Mar24Jack Rodewald, left, Tanner Eberle and Jaimen Yakubowski all wrapped up their WHL careers over the weekend.

The Western Hockey League careers of three players came to a close over the weekend when the Moose Jaw Warriors were eliminated from post-season contention during game 72.

All three players played a key role for the tribe during the 2014-15 season and will leave big holes to fill heading into the offseason.

Tanner Eberle, Jack Rodewald and Jaimen Yakubowski all served as assistant captains with the Warriors, while Rodewald and Eberle sat in second and third on the team in goals with 36 and 33 respectively.

Their leadership and consistency were a big part of the Warriors' success this season.

Eberle Bleeds for Warriors

Tanner Eberle spent all four of his years in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors.

He joined the team as a 17-year-old after being taken with Moose Jaw's last pick, 154th overall, in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. Eberle has laid it all on the line as a Warrior since then.

“Nothing but good things to say about the organization and the fan support here,” said Eberle, who played in 270 games with the Warriors.

“You don't see many guys in the league stick with one team for their whole career. I'm lucky enough to play on one team my whole career, so that's something special.”

Warrior fans saw Eberle develop from an energy role player during his first few seasons into a well rounded player over his final two years with the tribe. Eberle set career-highs for goals with 33 and points with 56 during his 20-year-old season.

“I've just been improving every season with point totals and goal totals and stuff like that,” said Eberle. “In my 20-year-old season I was still able to bring that energy, but finding the back of the net a lot more, which is a good thing.”

Eberle finished his career with 80 goals, 92 assists, 172 points and 406 penalty minutes and while his contributions on the ice have grown each year, so has his presences as a leader.

He credited with the players he played with in his early years with helping him mature.

“My first year I had some of the best role models that I've ever seen,” said Eberle. “Just living with Kendall McFaull, give him a lot of credit for the way I am now because he was a big part of it. Captain Kendall just always taking care of me, he's been a big role model for me.”

Now that his WHL career is over, Eberle has his sights set on heading pro. He's attended Montreal Canadiens camp over the past two seasons and is looking at his options right now for joining an AHL or ECHL team.Warriors Rodewald Mar20Rodewald celebrates a goal during his final home game with the Warriors on Friday night.

Rodewald Grows with Warriors

Not much was known about Jack Rodewald when he was acquired by the Moose Jaw Warriors from the Regina Pats in a trade straight up for former top pick Carter Hansen.

Fans know about Jack Rodewald now after he put together two stellar seasons with the tribe, setting a career-high in goals, assists and points in each of the past two seasons. Rodewald put together a great final season with 35 goals, 50 assists and 85 points in 71 games.

“Moose Jaw has been awesome, it was definitely the change I needed,” said Rodewald. “I've stayed with great billets the last two seasons, I've had two great coaches to be coached by and I've enjoyed playing with all the guys here.”

After spending his first two seasons battling for ice time with the Pats, since day one in Moose Jaw, Rodewald has slotted into the right wing spot on the top line with star centre Brayden Point.

He's taken full advantage going from 26 points in 124 games with Regina to 140 points in 129 games with the Warriors.

“I definitely wanted to come in and finish strong in my final year,” said Rodewald. “It's been awesome (playing with Point). To play alongside him and just to feed off the talent that he has is a really special thing.”

The foundation for Rodewald's success has been building over his 255 games in the WHL. He pointed to the captains that he's had along the way as helping shape him into a better person and player.

“My first year I had Brandon Davidson as a captain and he was somebody that I really looked up to,” said Rodewald. “Just continuing down the line, it's just older guys who've helped me and I've tried to take a little bit from them.”

Rodewald added that he has now tried to pass that along during his final WHL season.

The skilled power forward is hoping that his playing days aren't over as he has his sights set on moving on to pro hockey. Rodewald said his agent has been in contact with some teams and expects to hear something in the coming days.

Yakubowski Comes Home for Finish

Jaimen Yakubowski has had quite the WHL career has he's played for three different teams in three different divisions and in two countries.

The Dalmeny, Saskatchewan native started his four-year WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes as a 17-year-old. He had his most productive season as an 18-year-old in Lethbridge with 32 goals and 50 points in 66 games in 2012-13.

Last year was split between the Hurricanes and Seattle Thunderbirds, but while enjoying each stop, Yakubowski said he was really happy to be able to come to Moose Jaw this year and finish his career close to home.Warriors Yakubowski Oct4Yakubowski breaks up ice during action at Mosaic Place this season.

“It's been a fun time, I've got to play on three different teams that were really great,” said Yakubowski. “Can't have anything better to say about the Warriors, it was great getting to play here and also throughout my career, it's been great to play in the Western League.

“Getting to come back home here for my last year in Saskatchewan was awesome and it worked out well.

“We've got a great group of guys here, great coaching staff, GM, front office, all have treated me top notch and I think that goes for the other guys too, nothing bad to say about this place.”

Yakubowski was a key part of the Warriors' leadership group this season and provided a steady option offensively with nine goals and 26 points in 55 games.

He battled a shoulder injury throughout the second half of the year that finally broke down late in the season when he opted for surgery on Friday.

He said his 247 games in the WHL flew by.

“It feels like it was yesterday I was a 17-year-old in the league in Lethbridge,” said Yakubowski. “In the moment it feels like it might be going slow, but then at the end of each year, you're kind of wowed by how fast it goes by, especially this year, it's been crazy.”

Yakubowski added that his focus right now is on getting healthy, but he's received offers from post-secondary schools to join them next season and will weigh his options over the summer.

Warriors Disappointed But Positive (VIDEO)

Warriors Salute Mar24The Moose Jaw Warriors salute the fans at Mosaic Place following their final home game on Friday, which they won 7-6 in overtime over Brandon.

The Moose Jaw Warriors weren't happy about having to clean out their lockers on Monday at Mosaic Place. It meant another season outside of the post-season, but the tribe was encouraged by what they were able to accomplish this season.

DiscoverMooseJaw's Marc Smith was at the rink on Monday to get reaction from the team as they headed into another offseason without a playoff berth and the mood was positive after a late season playoff push that ended up being one game short.

Warriors' Season Comes to a Close

Warriors Howden Nov12

Moose Jaw’s season came to an end Saturday with a 9-2 loss to the WHL, Eastern Conference, and East Division champion Brandon Wheat Kings.

After putting on a show Friday in Moose Jaw, the Warriors and Wheat Kings established a quick pace that produced plenty of scoring opportunities in the first period Saturday.

Ten minutes in to the game Brandon rookie forward Nolan Patrick led a rush up the ice on the right wing.  Patrick passed the puck to Morgan Klimchuk at the Moose Jaw left circle, the former Regina Pat then placed the puck on the stick of Macoy Erkamps driving the Warriors net where he scored the game’s first goal.

Warriors' assistant coach Mark O'Leary joins James Gallo on the Country 100 Post-Game Show following Saturday's season-ending loss to Brandon.

Moose Jaw had a golden opportunity to tie the game shorty after.  With Brandon pressing Jack Rodewald used the Warriors boards to poke the puck around the Wheat Kings defenceman.  Rodewald then corralled the puck in the neutral zone and fed Captain Brayden Point for a breakaway.  The Warriors leading scorer beat goalie Jordan Papirny but unfortunately couldn’t beat the iron, as the puck clanged off the post keeping Brandon in the lead.

With just over five minutes remaining in the first the Warriors were given the first power play of the game and they capitalized.  Dallas Valentine controlled the puck at the left Brandon circle, his wrist shot towards the net was deflected by Rodewald, and his 35th of the year evened the game at one.

The teams exchanged chances to end the first but it was Brandon transition game that was the difference.  With just over a minute to go Braylon Shmyr led a rush across the Warriors line on the right wing.  He was able to connect with John Quenneville on the left wing, the New Jersey Devils prospect then placed the puck off the back hand of defenseman Reid Gow driving the net where he scored his second of the season to give the Wheat Kings a 2-1.

Brandon rolled their lines in the second period and kept goalie Brody Willms busy as they tossed 22 shots on the Moose Jaw net.

The Wheat Kings pressure created goals from Morgan Klimchuk and Nolan Patrick, pushing the Warriors in to a three goal hole going to the third period.

Brandon flexed their muscle in the third period, scoring nine goals to finish the Warriors season.  Brayden Point scored a goal for the Warriors in the final moments.

Moose Jaw finishes the regular season with a record of 32-35-4-1 and just out of the playoff for the third straight year.

This also marks the end of the WHL careers for Jack Rodewald, Tanner Eberle, and Jaimen Yakubowski.

Eberle was a seventh round pick by the Warriors in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, he went on to play four years in Moose Jaw.  In 270 career games he had 80 goals, 92 assists, 172 points, and 406 penalty minutes.  He was also a part of the Warriors 2012 team that captured the East Division title and ran to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.

Rodewald started his WHL career with the Regina Pats and came to the Warriors before the start of the 2013-2014 regular season.  In 255 goals he had 76 goals, 90 assists, and 166 points, he saved his best year for last as he posted career high’s this season in goals (35), assists (50), and points (85).

Yakubowski was acquired by the Warriors during the off-season from Seattle, in 55 games with Moose Jaw this season he had nine goals, 26 points, and 121 penalty minutes.  His season was cut short due to an injury, he elected to have surgery Friday and wasn’t with the team this weekend.

Moose Jaw’s season came to an end Saturday with a 9-2 loss to the WHL, Eastern Conference, and East Division champion Brandon Wheat Kings.

After putting on a show Friday in Moose Jaw, the Warriors and Wheat Kings established a quick pace that produced plenty of scoring opportunities in the first period Saturday.

Ten minutes in to the game Brandon rookie forward Nolan Patrick led a rush up the ice on the right wing.  Patrick passed the puck to Morgan Klimchuk at the Moose Jaw left circle, the former Regina Pat then placed the puck on the stick of Macoy Erkamps driving the Warriors net where he scored the game’s first goal.

Moose Jaw had a golden opportunity to tie the game shorty after.  With Brandon pressing Jack Rodewald used the Warriors boards to poke the puck around the Wheat Kings defenceman.  Rodewald then corralled the puck in the neutral zone and fed Captain Brayden Point for a breakaway.  The Warriors leading scorer beat goalie Jordan Papirny but unfortunately couldn’t beat the iron, as the puck clanged off the post keeping Brandon in the lead.

With just over five minutes remaining in the first the Warriors were given the first power play of the game and they capitalized.  Dallas Valentine controlled the puck at the left Brandon circle, his wrist shot towards the net was deflected by Rodewald, and his 35th of the year evened the game at one.

The teams exchanged chances to end the first but it was Brandon transition game that was the difference.  With just over a minute to go Braylon Shmyr led a rush across the Warriors line on the right wing.  He was able to connect with John Quenneville on the left wing, the New Jersey Devils prospect then placed the puck off the back hand of defenseman Reid Gow driving the net where he scored his second of the season to give the Wheat Kings a 2-1.

Brandon rolled their lines in the second period and kept goalie Brody Willms busy as they tossed 22 shots on the Moose Jaw net.

The Wheat Kings pressure created goals from Morgan Klimchuk and Nolan Patrick, pushing the Warriors in to a three goal hole going to the third period.

Brandon flexed their muscle in the third period, scoring nine goals to finish the Warriors season.  Brayden Point scored a goal for the Warriors in the final moments.

Moose Jaw finishes the regular season with a record of 32-35-4-1 and just out of the playoff for the third straight year.

This also marks the end of the WHL careers for Jack Rodewald, Tanner Eberle, and Jaimen Yakubowski.

Eberle was a seventh round pick by the Warriors in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, he went on to play four years in Moose Jaw.  In 270 career games he had 80 goals, 92 assists, 172 points, and 406 penalty minutes.  He was also a part of the Warriors 2012 team that captured the East Division title and ran to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.

Rodewald started his WHL career with the Regina Pats and came to the Warriors before the start of the 2013-2014 regular season.  In 255 goals he had 76 goals, 90 assists, and 166 points, he saved his best year for last as he posted career high’s this season in goals (35), assists (50), and points (85).

Yakubowski was acquired by the Warriors during the off-season from Seattle, in 55 games with Moose Jaw this season he had nine goals, 26 points, and 121 penalty minutes.  His season was cut short due to an injury, he elected to have surgery Friday and wasn’t with the team this weekend.

Warriors Post Thrilling Shootout Win Friday

Mar20 Rodewald1 570x380Jack Rodewald celebrates his go-ahead goal for the Warriors in the third period of Friday night's game at Mosaic Place. (Photo: Stephen Simon / MJ Warriors)

Mosaic Place was electric Friday at the Moose Jaw Warriors kept their playoff hopes alive with a thrilling 7-6 shootout win over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Brandon pressed to start the first period but it was the Warriors who found results.  Two minutes in Axel Blomqvist worked below the Wheat Kings goal line, he was able to find a passing lane to Brayden Point in front of the net.  The Warriors Captain didn’t take long to get the shot off, scoring his team leading 37th of the year.

Throughout the opening period the teams exchanged scoring opportunities and eventually Brandon took a 19-8 advantage on the shot clock.

With just over four minutes remaining Macoy Erkamps charged across the Warriors right line, he tossed the puck towards the middle of the Moose Jaw zone where Rihards Bukarts reached to deflect the puck past Zach Sawchenko to even the game at one.

Less than two minutes later former Regina Pat Morgan Klimchuk controlled the puck just outside the Brandon line.  The Calgary Flames first round draft pick connected with Braylon Shmyr who was flying on the far left wing.  Shmyr snuck behind the Warriors defence and was able to convert on the partial breakaway, giving Brandon a 2-1 leading heading to the intermission.

68 seconds in to the second period the Wheat Kings caught a break.  Bukarts flipped the puck from the left circle to the bottom right circle for Shmyr who quickly tossed the puck back towards the left wing.  The puck went off of a Warriors skate and in to the net to give Brandon a two-goal lead.

Approaching the five minute mark of the period Tanner Eberle came across the Brandon line.  He ripped a shot on net, the puck fooled goalie Alex Moodie and bounced in to the back of the net to cut in to the deficit.

21 seconds later Eberle and line mates Brett Howden and Jayden Halbgewachs forced a goal mouth scramble.  Halbgewachs was able to poke the puck past the goal line, tying the game at three.

Seven seconds later Jack Rodewald burst across the Brandon right line.  He swing the puck to Point going through the middle of the Brandon zone, the Captain quickly tossed the puck to the top of the left crease where Axel Blomqvist shelved his 25th to give Moose Jaw a 4-3 lead.

As the second continue both goalies were forced to make key saves as they saw quality shots.

With less than six minutes remaining Brandon rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov threw the puck towards the Moose Jaw net where Kale Clague got a piece of the puck, deflecting it in to the twine for the game tying goal.

The seesaw battled continued in the third period.  23 seconds in Point set up Dustin Perillat for a shot from the Brandon blueline, Rodewald was able to deflect it from inside the bottom left circle, giving Moose Jaw a 5-4 lead.

It didn’t take long for the Wheat Kings to respond, 57 seconds later Nolan Patrick’s wrist shot from just inside the Warriors blueline tied the game at five.

The goals kept coming 27 seconds later.  Moose Jaw dumped the puck to the Brandon end boards and Eberle went hard on the fore-check.  With Brandon goalie Alex Moodie out to play the puck, Eberle was able to force a turnover and toss the puck to the crease where Brett Howden scored his 22nd of the year to put the Warriors back in front.

Brandon once again came battling back.  At 7:05 the Wheat Kings worked the puck along the Warriors wall, Clague flipped the puck to the point where Macoy Erkamps unloaded a slapshot that tied the game at six.

The rest of regulation saw the teams exchange opportunities but neither was able to produce a game winning goal.  Overtime was similar, the teams pressed for a marker but weren’t able to score, propelling this thrilling game into a shootout.

Brayden Point and Rihards Bukarts were both turned away in the opening round.  The second round opened with a Jack Rodewald goal and was followed by Sawchenko stopping Braylon Shmyr.  In the third round Jesse Shynkaruk came over the boards, grabbed the puck at centre ice, broke in on the goaltender and sealed the win with a goal that sent the fans into a frenzy.

Point and Tanner Eberle both had a goal and two points for the Warriors; Jayden Halbgewachs, Jack Rodewald, Brett Howden, and Axel Blomqvist both had a goal and two points, and Zach Sawchenko made 30 saves in regulation and overtime and another two in the shootout.

After the win the Warriors quickly turned to the scoreboard where they learned that the Swift Current Broncos beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-3, which means that the tribe heads in to the final game of the regular season two points behind the Broncos for third in the East Division.

If Moose Jaw were to win and the Broncos fall Saturday, which would set up a tie-breaker game Tuesday, March 24th.

Moose Jaw closes out the 2014-2015 WHL regular season Saturday with a rematch against the Wheat Kings.  Catch all the action from Brandon starting with the Country 100 Westrum Lumber Timber Mart PreGame Show at 6:10pm.

Point Claims Several Team Awards

Awards POTY 570x430Warriors captain Brayden Point is presented the team's Player of the Year by Warriors president Chad Taylor.

The Moose Jaw Warriors announced their regular season awards before Friday’s game against the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Captain Brayden Point skated away with a number of honours including the teams Player of the Year award.  He was also named the YARA Fans Choice, he won the Emerald Custom Creations 3 Stars Award, and the Mark MacKay Hustle Award.

Going in to the final weekend of the regular season Point led the team with 36 goals and 83 points, he went in to the final two games one point up on line mate Jack Rodewald for the teams RBC Top Scorer Award.

In three season with the Warriors Point has played in just over 200 regular season games, he has 97 goals and 232 points and sits 11th on the team’s All-Time scoring list and is 11th all-time in assists.  Earlier this season Point took part in the 2014 Subway Super Series with Team WHL, over the holiday season he won a gold medal with Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

Goaltender Zach Sawchenko won the Vanier Collegiate Scholastic Player of the Year award.  Sawchenko took a full load of courses this year and posted an impressive 91.25% average.

Graduating forward Jack Rodewald was named the Moose Jaw Coop Humanitarian of the Year.  Rodewald was a key player in the team’s community programs this season.  He was one of the driving forces behind the clubs partnership with the Moose Jaw Police Service where they visited local schools and spoke to students against bullying, drugs and alcohol, and online safety.

Rodewald and long-time Warrior Tanner Eberle shared the Shanon Maclachlan True Warriors Award.  This award is given to the player(s) who personifies the Warriors identity on and off the ice.  Eberle and Rodewald both had career years on the ice and both were key fixtures in the community.

The Moose Jaw Booster club Un-Sung Hero was presented to graduating forward Jaimen Yakubowski.  The Dalmeny, Saskatchewan product was acquired by the Warriors during the off-season and made an impact immediately.  Yakubowski was unable to attend the ceremony, earlier in the day he underwent surgery to correct a nagging injury that ended his final season early.

Brett Howden was named the team’s McDonalds Rookie of the Year and the C & E Mechanical Most Sportsmanlike Player.  Howden was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, he entered the weekend 6th in WHL rookie scoring with 21 goals and 44 points.  He also took part in the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The Andy’s Transmission and Automotive Most Improved Player was rookie import Jiri Smejkal.  From the Czech Republic, it took Smejkal time to adjust to the North American style but over time he became a regular contributor to the Warriors in all situations.

The Canada Safeway Top Defenceman was awarded to Dallas Valentine.  The 18-year-old played every situation and big minutes for the Warriors throughout the season, he also posted career highs in assists and points.

Season on the Line Again for the Warriors

Dec27 Brandon2 570x380Jack Rodewald rushes up ice for the Warriors against the Brandon Wheat Kings at Mosaic Place.

It all comes down to this for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The tribe will play two games against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and Saturday night with their entire season on the line.

Moose Jaw enters play two points back of the Swift Current Broncos and will need some help from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have a home-and-home against the Broncos, but the team is focusing first on taking care of their own business.

“There's lots of ramifications going around the league, there's a lot of big games (Friday) night,” said head coach Tim Hunter. “There's a couple ways things can go and we might get a break there, but we're not counting on any of this stuff. We've got to play our game, win our game and take of our business and that's all you can do at this time of the year.”

The Warriors are one of the hotter teams in the league over the past 20 games, picking up 11 wins, including seven in their last ten games.

The team has been playing with their season on the line for the most part as well, knowing how big a loss can be with every two points being huge.

“About a month ago, some of us would have nerves going into the game, but now we kind of know how to deal with them and we can just go out there and play our game as a team,” said 17-year-old defenceman Tyler Brown, who picked up two assists and was a plus-five in the Warriors' 6-2 win over Swift Current on Tuesday.

“The momentum from (Tuesday's) game was huge,” he added. “It was a do-or-die game and we came out victorious in it, so now we've just got to keep that rolling into the weekend.”

The Warriors will be in tough this weekend as they get the top-ranked Wheat Kings, while the Broncos face-off with the 11th place Hurricanes, who have long been eliminated from the playoffs.

Moose Jaw will need a repeat of their effort last Tuesday in Brandon. The tribe stuck with the Wheat Kings throughout the contest before falling just short 5-3.

The Warriors won their first meeting of the year with the Wheat Kings 5-4 in overtime back on December 10th, so they know that they have it in them to knock off the Eastern Conference's best team.

“We've beat them, so we're ready for it,” said Brown. “We need to take care of their rushes, keep them to the outside and not let them hit those seem passes to the backdoor or their trailing defenceman.”

Brandon will be looking to lock up the WHL regular season title and clinch home-ice advantage throughout the entire post-season this weekend. They have a three-point lead on the Kelowna Rockets heading into the two games against the Warriors.

The Wheat Kings also saw Nolan Patrick and Peter Quenneville return to their forward group on Tuesday.

“Goaltending, playing well in our end and not giving up odd-man rushes will be important,” said Hunter. “Bearing down and taking care of our chances too because they always hand us a lot of chances, we're always very close in chances against them, they just seem to be able to put the puck in the net and we can't at times.”

You can catch all the action between the Warriors and Wheat Kings on Country 100. The Pre-Game Show will hit the air at 6:30pm due to the Warriors handing out their annual YARA Awards prior to the game.

Injury Report... The Warriors did rest some players from Thursday's practice after giving most of the regulars the day-off on Wednesday.

The team should be at full strength however for the weekend as Tanner Eberle took part in full practice on Thursday after returning to the lineup on Tuesday. He continues to battle a shoulder injury, but should be good to go this weekend.

20-year-old Jaimen Yakubowski will be the only forward out with an injury as he's under-going shoulder surgery on Friday, ending his season.

Warriors Rest Up For Big Weekend

Warriors Smejkal Sep5Warriors rookie import forward Jiri Smejkal has 12 goals and 32 points in 70 games this season.

Wednesday was a rest day for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Coming off Tuesday's hard fought 6-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos, which kept the tribe's playoff hopes alive, the Warriors' regulars were given the day to rest and recuperate heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

It will be a big final weekend for the Warriors as they sit two points back of the Swift Current Broncos for the final East Division playoff spot with just two games to go.

“Last twenty games, we say before that this is an important game for us, so we're use to playing under pressure,” said import forward Jiri Smejkal on Wednesday. “This is okay for us, nothing special right now.”

The Warriors continue to push forward with the mindset that they've been playing must-win games since leaving for their BC Division road trip at the start of February, so another weekend of it is no big deal.

Moose Jaw needs to win both games against the Brandon Wheat Kings and then get some help from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who face the Broncos in a home-and-home series. If the Hurricanes win both against Swift Current then a split against the Wheat Kings gets the Warriors in.

Smejkal said it's a little bittersweet that the team couldn't find this gear until this late in the season.

“Now we play like team and in the last twenty games, we've won like 13-14 games, so it will be sad if we not make playoffs,” said Smejkal, who did admit that this is a good sign for next season.

“If we continue playing how we play now, it will be a pretty good season next season.”

Smejkal's line with Torrin White and Jesse Shynkaruk has been one of the biggest contributing factors to the Warriors' success as of late. Since they were put together on the BC Division road trip, they provided the team with a strong second line to take the pressure off of the Brayden Point top line.

Smejkal said everything just clicked between the three players, who all bring something different to the table, but also provide plenty of guts and hard work.

“We have minimum ten chances per game over the last ten games and (Tuesday) was pretty good, we scored three goals,” he said. “We understand each other on the ice... All the guys give something different to the game and together, we're pretty good.”

Heading into the weekend, the Warriors are confident that they can knock off the top-ranked Wheat Kings and get into the playoffs.

“They're a pretty skilled team, so we must give some checks to them and be hard on the pucks and give 100 percent to the games and hope that Swift loses one game,” said Smejkal.

There will no doubt be plenty of scoreboard watching for Smejkal and his teammates over the next few days as they look to finish off an incredible run.

The Warriors will host the Wheat Kings on Friday night at Mosaic Place and then head to Brandon on Saturday. Prior to Friday's game, the tribe will hand out the end of year awards during the annual YARA Awards Night presentation.

Still Alive! Warriors Knock Off Broncos

Mar17 Howden1 570x380Brett Howden celebrates one of his two goals during Tuesday night's 6-2 win for the Warriors over the Swift Current Broncos. (Photo: Stephen Simon / MJ Warriors)

With their playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Moose Jaw Warriors picked up a massive win on Tuesday night at Mosaic Place.

Three third period goals and some stellar goaltending from Zach Sawchenko propelled the Warriors to a 6-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos, moving the tribe just two points back of the final East Division playoff spot.

“It was a do-or-die situation, we prepared right for it and we played awesome,” said 19-year-old Torrin White, who led the way for Moose Jaw with a goal and three points. “All four lines were going, the six D and goalie, so that's how we've got to win.”

The win sets up an exciting final weekend of the regular season for the Warriors as they look to chase down the Broncos for third in the East Division. Swift Current holds a two-point lead with two games to go for each team.

Warriors assistant coach Mark O'Leary joins the Country 100 Post-Game Show following the team's 6-2 win over Swift Current.

The Warriors will be in tough against the Eastern Conference-leading Brandon Wheat Kings, while the Broncos have a home-and-home with the 11th place Lethbridge Hurricanes.

“It was a huge win for us and a huge team win, we were due for one of those,” said Sawchenko after turning away 41 shots to lead the Warriors to the win.

The tribe received contributions from throughout the lineup in the win with Howden scoring twice and Tyler Brown posting three assists and finishing a plus-five in the game.

Jesse Shynkaruk and Jiri Smejkal each had a goal and an assist as well.

“It's nice for everyone when all four lines are going,” said White. “It's some weight off the top three guys shoulders and when all four lines are going and we're getting offence is the reason we're winning.”

“Torrin's line were definitely on tonight,” added captain Brayden Point. “That line lifted us.”

Moose Jaw was able to withstand a could of swings in momentum to the Swift Current side during the game.

It was Howden's second goal of the game 4:53 into the third period that broke the back of the Broncos. Howden's cross-ice pass went off of defenceman Dillion Heatherington's skate and into the back of the net to give Moose Jaw a two-goal lead.

White set up Jiri Smejkal just 2:06 later to put Moose Jaw up three and in full control of the game.

“It's huge when you see Howden score that, it widens the lead a little bit, takes some pressure off,” said Point, who scored once in the win.

“Teams that are good in this league know how to win games, they were pressing, but we did a good job of blocking some shots and Sawsy was able to keep them out for us. That was huge to start the period and we were able to score some goals.”

The Warriors were given a scare early in the first period. With the team up 1-0 on Howden's first of game just 1:46 in, Point was levelled by teammate Tanner Jeannot when they miss-read each other.

With Point laying on the ice, the Broncos went back the other way and Zac Mackay tied the game up.

The Warriors' captain headed to the locker room for a little over six minutes of play before returning to the bench and heading right back onto the ice.

“Usually I'm able to get out of the way,” said the elusive Point. “It's just one where we caught each other going the same and he's a bit of a bigger guy than I am, so I was on the wrong end of that one.”

Point confirmed that he underwent the concussion protocol, but was given the okay from the team doctor to return and was feeling fine after the game.

Point's return seemed to spark the Warriors, who finished the first period strong and carried that over to the second period where White gave them a 2-1 lead just 2:17 into the frame. Point picked up just 36th of the year moments later to make it 3-1.

The Broncos controlled the rest of the period however and Jake DeBrusk's 39th of the season pulled them within one with 4:15 to go in the middle frame.

It could have been worse without Sawchenko in goal as he turned away 18 shots in the frame and then 13 more in the third period to lead the team to the win.

“That's playoff hockey for you, it's all momentum swings, so we've got to learn how to deal with adversity,” said the 17-year-old goalie.

“It's a must-win from here on out and we all know it, we're not going to hide from it and we're ready to go.”

The Warriors will open the final weekend of the regular season on home ice against the Wheat Kings on Friday night. The team will also hand out their regular season awards that night with the annual YARA Awards Night. A ceremony will be held before the game and can be heard on Country 100, starting with the Western Lumber Timber Mart Pre-Game Show at 6:30pm.

Warriors' Season on the Line Tonight

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The pressure is on the Moose Jaw Warriors heading into their meeting with the Swift Current Broncos on Tuesday night.

But if that pressure is getting to the tribe, they sure aren't showing it.

“Obviously there's a lot of pressure, but right now we've just got to control the things that we can control,” said 19-year-old forward Torrin White, “that's just having a good practice (Monday) and preparing out bodies for the game.”

The team continues to seem loose as they enter the final week of the regular season sitting four points out of a playoff spot with three games to go.

The biggest of those games is coming on Tuesday with the Broncos at Mosaic Place that's because the Warriors are attempting to chase down the Swift Current squad for the final East Division playoff spot.

“It's going to be a big game for us, but we're just taking the same approach that we took into last week in Regina,” said 18-year-old defenceman Dallas Valentine. “We just need to play hard and try to get every point we can.”

The Warriors entered last weekend just two points back of the Broncos, who had lost seven straight. Swift Current was able to get back on track with a sweep of their two-game weekend against the Prince Albert Raiders, while the Warriors picked up a split of their two games against the rival Pats with the road team winning each game.

That makes Tuesday's meeting between the Warriors and Broncos huge with a loss ending any chance Moose Jaw has of making the playoffs, meaning a third straight year on the outside looking in.

One reason why the Warriors are able to stay loose with the pressure mounting is the fact that they've had their backs against the wall for the better part of two months now. The team has been pushing for a playoff spot since the start of February and have been treating every game like a playoff game.

“Tim (Hunter) said to us the other day that we've been playing big games for a couple weeks now and have responded well, so for us we've just got to keep doing the things that we've been doing and we'll have some success,” said White, who has been hot over the last seven games with five goals and eight points in the month of March.

The contributions from throughout the lineup have been key to the Warriors' late season turnaround.

The team was able to roll four lines for much of Saturday's 4-3 shootout win over the Pats and that took some of the load off of the Brayden Point line, which has carried the team for much of the season.

“That's really important, especially at this point in the season, everyone is getting a little worn down,” said White. “The more contributions that you get from the third, fourth, and even second, line guys, the easier it is for the top-six guys.”

The Warriors won their last meeting with the Broncos, topping them 3-2 at Mosaic Place on March 6th. That's something that has given the Warriors plenty of confidence and made the Broncos leery of what could happen.

“Last time we were in there, we left with a sour taste in our mouth,” said Broncos overage forward Carter Rigby. “It's going to be a fun game that hopefully we can be rewarded.”

Shutting down the Broncos' top line of Rigby, Colby Cave and Jake DeBrusk will be the focus for the Warriors. They found their stride on Saturday with Cave putting up four goals and five points in a 7-3 win over Prince Albert.

“They put up a lot of points, so we've just got to play tough against them, play physical and just being in their face all game to try and slow them down,” said Valentine.

“We know that they're probably going to have a bit more confidence than they did before, but we know we can beat them and we've beat them before, so it's just work hard and it will be a good game.”

The Warriors and Broncos hit the ice at 7:00pm on Tuesday night. You can catch all the action live on Country 100, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:40pm.