The Moose Jaw Warriors couldn’t finish off the Regina Pats on Saturday night in their home opener.
The Warriors jumped out to a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but allowed five unanswered goals in a 6-3 loss to the Pats at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
“We definitely had the chances take control of the game, we just couldn’t put the puck home and we got some unfortunate bounces that didn’t go our way,” Warriors defenceman Lucas Brenton said.
A shorthanded Warriors team came away with a split of their season-opening weekend home-and-home against the rival Pats with the road team taking each contest after a 5-4 win in Regina on Friday.
Warriors assistant coach Scott King said he liked the fight shown by the team over the course of the weekend.
“We’ll take the good and move on from here,” he said. “We got the win in Regina [Friday] night, which was huge, but definitely other opportunities to have a different game tonight.”
Moose Jaw opened the scoring when Nathan Pilling ripped home his first of the season on the power play just 4:57 into the game.
Atley Calvert added to the lead when he banged home a rebound in front to make it 2-0 just 11:26 into the first period.
Regina responded only 23 seconds later when Borya Valis scored his second of the weekend to make it a 2-1 game after one.
The Warriors were handed a penalty at the end of the opening frame, so they stared the second on the penalty kill, but that didn’t matter to Brayden Yager, who broke down the wing and rifled a shot top shelf only 1:14 into the period to make it a two-goal lead for the Warriors again.
The Pats took control midway through the second period when Parker Berge’s point shot found its way through traffic to pull Regina within one.
Less than five minutes later, Connor Bedard snapped home his first of the season to tie the game.
Then 3:36 after that, Bedard struck again, forcing a turnover and scoring shorthanded to give the Pats a one-goal advantage heading into the third.
Easton Armstrong provided some insurance early in the third and Bedard scored into an empty net with 2:29 left to play to complete the hat trick in the win.
“I thought we had a pretty good look to make it 4-1 and then the game changed from there,” King said. “We definitely had our opportunities to widen the lead and just didn’t find a way to score, they hung around and found a way.”
Yager finished with a goal and three points in the loss, while Bedard had three goals and four points in a showdown of the two of the top prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft.
Riley Niven and Marek Howell also picked up assists in the loss.
The Warriors come away with the split despite playing this weekend without seven regulars, six away at NHL camps and Robert Baco out due to a suspension.
King said the future is bright for the Warriors with a number of young players stepping up.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids that had real good training camps, they showed what they can do and it’s just a matter of them getting a little bit strong and they’ll be real good players at this level,” he said.
Jackson Unger got the start in goal for the Warriors, allowing five goals on 38 shots, while Drew Sim stopped 34 of 37 shots from Moose Jaw.
The Warriors will return to the ice coming up on Friday when they host the Prince Albert Raiders at the Hangar. Tickets are available at mjwarriors.ca and the Moose Jaw Events Centre Box Office.