Warriors close out pre-Christmas campaign with win over Regina

Warriors close out pre-Christmas campaign with win over Regina

Lolacher scores a pair, Korczak has a goal and three points en route to a 6-2 win at Moose Jaw Events Center

The Moose Jaw Warriors enter the Christmas break on a high note.

The Warriors scored twice in each half and would earn a 6-2 win over the Regina Pats at the Moose Jaw Events Center on Friday night, posting a mini-sled in two games and maintaining their fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

Moose Jaw improved to 20-12-0-0 with the win, staying five points behind Saskatoon in third place and one point ahead of Lethbridge.

The competition ended as the best of in a Warriors jersey for forward Harper Lolacher as the 17-year-old forward enjoyed his first two-goal game and now has six goals and eight points in the season.

“The win felt good, the guys all worked together and it feels good to go into the break with a win,” said Lolacher. “I just did what I could and it came together. And I had family in the stands so hopefully they liked that. It was nice to score a few goals for them and celebrate Christmas.”

It certainly didn’t hurt that head coach Mark O’Leary had the confidence in Lolacher to put him alongside Jagger Firkus and Brayden Yager, the team’s top two scorers.

That paid off in the first period when Lolacher scored the Warriors’ second goal with six minutes remaining. A point shot from Lucas Brenton eluded Regina goaltender Drew Sim and landed on the side of the net, and Lolacher was in the right place at the right time to put the puck into the open cage.

Pilot Butte’s product would strike again at 8:47 in the game, bringing home a point shot from Logan Dowhaniuk for the Warriors’ second power play goal of the night.

“Right now I’m really confident in my game and I’m starting to get the puck in the net and producing,” said Lolacher, who also scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal on Dec. 9 and now has four goals and five points in the Warriors’ last four games. “Playing with Firk and Yags today was a good test for me and I thought I did well and they played well too, we had a good game as a line. Everyone else was great too, they all contributed and worked hard.”

The Warriors opened the scoring in just over four minutes, and it was a milestone for one of the team’s young drafts. Atley Calvert put down the original shot on target and 16-year-old Ethan Hughes was rewarded for hitting the net hard, getting part of the rebound and getting it past Sim in his first Western Hockey League goal.

Hughes and colleague Noah Degenstein had been called up to fill the roster openings left by Martin Rysavy and Robert Baco, who played for their respective national teams at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Regina’s Alexander Suzdalev scored a 2-1 game before the end of the period. Braxton Whitehead fended off a Warriors attempt to clear and found Suzdalev alone in the slot while the would-be Washington Capitals put a quick shot past Connor Ungar.

The Warriors got their first power play seconds in the second period and would make it count. A Yager shot from goal was deflected straight to Firkus in front of Pats goal and, like Hughes before him, he had thrown the puck into the wide-open net.

The hockey gods continued to smile at the Warriors at the 8:28 mark of the third when another detour in front of Sim resulted in another perfect scoring chance at the edge of the net and Eric Alarie would be there for Johnny to put a home shot.

The Warriors continued to press for the next five minutes, but Regina would hit the board next. Suzdalev hammered a vicious one-timer after a pass from Layton Feist to pull the pats back to a pair.

Ryder Korczak got on the scoreboard with his eighth goal of the season and third point of the night midway through the third, ending a two-on-one with Yager by tapping a pass into Sim’s top corner.

Lolacher then scored his second goal to close the evening.

Ungar wasn’t overly busy, parrying 27 shots to earn his 15th win, second-best in the WHL in that category. Sim had 35 saves.

The Warriors are now on their Christmas break, with their next action on Wednesday, December 28 when they host the Winnipeg Ice.

“I think it will be good for everyone to take a break, have some time to focus on their family and themselves, then it will be time to come back and get back to work,” Lolacher said.

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