Warriors 8 Rebels 5
A goaltenders duel it was not.
The Moose Jaw Warriors wiped out a 2-0 first-period deficit with six second-period goals and skated to an 8-5 WHL win over the Red Deer Rebels before a recorded crowd of 5,832 Saturday at the Centrium.
“I haven’t been involved in one of those games in awhile,” said Warriors star forward and two-time Canadian national junior team member Quinton Howden.
“It felt like we were back outside on the pond playing hockey. But we found a way to get it done.”
Indeed, the high-powered visitors struck for a half dozen second-period markers after trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes and took a 6-5 lead into the final frame.
Howden had a goal and two assists for the Warriors, who got two goals from Justin Kirsch and additional markers from Torrin White, James Henry, Cam Braes, Kendal McFaull and Sam Fioretti, who scored into an empty net at 18:41 of the third period.
Josh Hamilton and Brooks Maxwell staked the Rebels to a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes and rookie defenceman Cody Thiel gave Red Deer a 3-1 margin with his first-ever WHL goal at 7:05 of the second period.
But the lead was eventually relinquished when White connected at 15:34 of the middle frame for a 4-3 Moose Jaw advantage.
Charles Inglis answered back for the Rebels less than two minutes later with a wrist shot that was partially stopped by netminder Luke Siemens before trickling into the net, but Warriors rearguard McFaull connected at 18:04 with a wrist shot from the point.
Turner Elson brought the Rebels back with a wrap-around tally at 18:54, but the visitors struck again at 19:38, with Kirsch pulling the trigger with his 18th of the season.
Siemens was replaced by Spencer Tremblay at the start of the final frame and the move paid dividends for the Warriors as the back-up netminder stopped all 11 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes and Moose Jaw sealed the deal with two late goals.
“We came out in the first period and generated some opportunities and then it really opened up for both teams in the second period,” said Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin, whose club played with five defencemen due to injuries, then lost forwards Cory Millette and Hamilton as the contest progressed.
“More than anything we just made some mental mistakes and looked like a hockey team that has been under-manned for awhile.
“The first thing that goes when you get worn down is the mental aspect of the game and I thought we made some mental mistakes. The effort was there but we made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the defensive zone, mistakes where we were just reaching for the puck and didn’t keep our feet moving.
“And yet we battled back in the third period despite being down to eight forwards.”