The Moose Jaw Warriors fought right until the end, but came up just short in their second round series with the Winnipeg ICE.
The Warriors lost 6-3 in Game 5 on Friday night in Winnipeg.
“I’m proud of them, I don’t know if anyone expected us to make it this far, they’re the best team in Canada, we fought hard and that’s all we got,” Warriors forward Ryder Korczak said.
Friday’s loss ends the season for Moose Jaw, while the ICE advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
Assistant coach Scott King said the Warriors showed their character throughout this series.
“The guys really battled hard and really proud of the way they played,” he said.
King said the loss stings right now, but the Warriors have a bright future ahead and will learn from this series.
“You play teams like this, it’s really beneficial for the group to go through a series like this against a really good team,” he said. “It makes you better, makes you learn and we’ll definitely be better for it next year.”
The Warriors got the start they were looking for on Friday night, Korczak opened the scoring just 46 seconds into the game and the Warriors led 2-0 on a goal by Thomas Tien with just over four minutes to go in the first.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, played really well,” King said. “We had opportunities to score four easily in that first period.”
Zachary Benson got Winnipeg on the board just over a minute later and that started a stretch of four straight goals for the ICE.
Matthew Savoie scored early in the second and then Cole Muir and Conor Geekie added markers later in the frame to make it 4-2.
“It was still a few turnovers, didn’t manage the puck the best,” said Korczak, who finished with a goal and two points in the Game 5 loss.
The Warriors cut the lead back down to one when Atley Calvert tipped home a power play goal with just under three minutes left in the second.
Savoie restored the ICE’s two-goal lead early in the third and despite some late pressure from the Warriors, the lead held.
Mikey Milne scored into an empty net with 1:32 to go to seal the game.
“Everyone’s super proud of what we accomplished,” Korczak said. “It’s a sad ending, but I’m excited for the future and to see what the future holds for everyone.”
This was the Warriors’ first appearance in the second round of the WHL Playoffs since the 2017-18 season.