A different city, but the same result for the Moose Jaw Warriors against the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday night as they lost 2-1 in a shootout at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The loss is the tribe’s sixth straight and fifth straight by one goal, including Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary at Mosaic Place.
“That’s a tough one to swallow for everybody,” said Warriors assistant coach Mark O’Leary on the Country 100 Post-Game Show. “Looking back on the last two games, this one is the exact same as our last game against these guys, we played them real tough.”
The Hitmen are the top team in the Eastern Conference right now with a 12-4-1-2 record so far this season. The loss drops Moose Jaw to 7-7-3-3, but they remain in third place in the East Division. “That’s a real good hockey club right there and we can take what we want from that, we played well, but you certainly hope to pull out two points when you can,” said O’Leary.
The two teams skated through the first period with no score and not much offence for either team with the Warriors outshooting the Hitmen, 6-2, in the frame.
Moose Jaw opened the scoring early in the second period with Carter Hansen picking up his second of the season, just 1:51 in. Calgary responded quickly though with Brendan Hurley beating Warriors goalie Justin Paulic just 15 seconds after Hansen’s goal to tie the game up at 1-1. The score remained that way through the third period and overtime.
The Hitmen’s Brooks Macek opened the scoring in the shootout on their first attempt, but Justin Kirsch answered for Moose Jaw. Cody Sylvester and Morgan Rielly, who was named second star after an outstanding game, were both stopped on the next shots. Greg Chase beat Paulic to open the third round of the shootout and Sam Fioretti couldn’t reply for Warriors, handing the Hitmen a 2-1 home win.
Moose Jaw falls to 0-3 on shootouts this season and O’Leary says it’s something that they will have to continue to work on, “When there’s nobody watching, there’s nothing on the line, you don’t really think, you just go down and shoot the puck in the net, but when it’s something like Sammy, where you have to score to make the shootout continue, there’s pressure there. It’s night and day (the different between shootouts in practice and games).”
The loss wasn’t for a lack of effort out of the tribe. They held Calgary to just 20 shots in the game and fired 29 of their own on Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger.
“As a group we’re starting to compete a little bit more and giving ourselves a chance,” stated O’Leary. “I think we’re creating an identity for ourselves of a team that likes to fore-check hard and work teams down low. If we can do that against a team like Calgary, I think that we can build on that, but two points would have been a lot better.”
The Warriors weren’t without their chances, especially on the power play, where they went 0-for-5 and are now 0-for-11 in their last three games. O’Leary says they just aren’t executing on their chances with the man advantage, “Everybody is on the same page, we know what we want to do, we do it in practice enough that we know what we’re trying to accomplish when we’re out there, but it just comes down to execution, putting together three or four passes and then finishing in the end.”
Finish close games is the problem for the Warriors right now as they’ve lost by a combined total of nine goals during their six game losing streak.
The Warriors will continue their Central Division road trip on Friday when they head to Medicine Hat. The Tigers won their last meeting, 3-2 at Mosaic Place, so the tribe will be looking for some payback as they try to end their skid.
“I think that’s still in the back of our minds, but I’m sure if we keep to play this way, I’m sure that we’ll get the bounces enough and hopefully put a few more in the net and we’ll be fine,” added O’Leary.
Moose Jaw wraps up their three game road swing on Saturday in Cranbrook as they take on Moose Jaw native Brock Montgomery and the Kootenay Ice for the first time this season.