Warriors v HitmenJan 04, 2013 - 13:55 GMT
A win tonight for the Moose Jaw Warriors would go a long ways towards setting the tone for a very challenging three-in-three weekend that they have on tap.
The tribe opens up against a Calgary Hitmen team that they've played tough so far this year, losing 2-1 in a shootout and 2-1 in overtime in their two meetings. “We've played them hard,” stated head coach Mike Stothers before departing for Calgary on Thursday.
“We've been able to get pucks by them and get them turning and taking advantage of their bigger defence. We've been agitating to them and that's gotten them a little bit frustrated.”
The Warriors head into the Scotiabank Saddledome with a clear plan of attack for beating the Hitmen. Calgary features a big group of defencemen and a skilled set of forwards that can do plenty of damage if given the opportunity to do so. “What scares you going in there is their most recent outing against Brandon was a 10-2 game, so we know they can score obviously, and we have to be on our 'A' game, we're going to have to have everybody playing and have no passengers,” said Stothers.
Calgary's goalies have been lights out this season, whether it's starter Chris Driedger, who ranks third in the league in GAA and fourth in save percentage, or young backup Mack Shields, who's posted a 2.90 GAA and .900 save percentage in his eight starts, which includes a win over Moose Jaw.
“They've got a good team and I think getting pucks deep, getting their defence and putting pucks on net will be big for us,” said Warriors overage forward Justin Kirsch, a former Hitmen.
Kirsch says this opening game of the trip will be huge for the team to get started on the right foot, “We know that all three of these teams are good teams and coming out strong for the road trip will be a good boost for us.”
The tribe will play three games against three of the Top-5 teams in the Eastern Conference during their trip to Alberta this weekend. Kirsch says staying focused will be a big key for them, “Obviously we're three-in-three again and it's always tough playing those back-to-back games like that, especially on the road, but we've prepared hard this week in practice, so we're ready to go.
“The focus of practice was just getting back into everything, working hard, getting back into our system play and just refreshing ourselves after that break.”
The Warriors went 2-1 during their three game weekend last weekend and Stothers says that's something they can build off of going into this weekend's set of games, “For the most part I liked it all, we returned after a ten-day break and went into Regina and played a very good hockey, good road game, good first game back. I thought the guys played well (throughout the three games), I thought from a coaches standpoint it was pretty satisfying and now we're hoping to build on that.”
The Warriors go to Red Deer after the game for a Saturday meeting with the Rebels and then wrap up the road trip on Sunday in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.
You can catch all the action this weekend on Country 100 with Voice of the Warriors, James Gallo, bringing you all the action. The Pre-Game Show will be on the air on Friday night from the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7:40pm.