Moose Jaw Warriors’ goalie making the most of his rookie season

Moose Jaw Warriors’ goalie Brett Mirwald expected to get some ice time in his rookie season, but he didn’t expect to be leading the league in ice time for first-year goaltenders.

“I wanted to earn my ice time and try and solidify myself on the team and hopefully get more opportunities for next year as well,” Mirwald said.

The 17-year-old has now accumulated 514 minutes of ice time, but he will never forget the first time he stepped onto the ice.

“It was quite nerve-racking. I was a little bit shaking in my boots,” Mirwald laughed.

During the Warriors' third game – which was the team’s first contest against their Trans-Canada rival the Regina Pats – Moose Jaw found themselves down 4-0 just 12 minutes into the first period.

“[It’s] nerve-racking when you go in because you’re cold sitting on the bench, just talking with the trainer [and] watching the game best seat in the house,” Mirwald explained. “Then when the coach looks at you, you just kind of turn it on really quick.”

Mirwald was put in to relieve goalie Boston Bilous. He then stopped all 27 shots he faced, helping the Warriors come back to win 5-4 in overtime.

“They said I was going to get good opportunities, I’ve just kind of been lucky,” Mirwald said.

Head coach Mark O’Leary was proud of the rookie’s efforts.

“He started as the backup, and the first three games went to Boston but Brett came in, he did his job and he earned more and more,” O’Leary said.

Since his first appearance, Mirwald has seen action in eight more games, starting in six. However, the rookie said the first relief win was a major confidence builder.

“When I got my first real start, I had more belief in myself,” Mirwald said. “I wasn’t too nervous about messing up early and losing trust from the coaches.”

Mirwald played Midget AAA for the Saskatoon Contacts. He was a rival of current Warriors’ teammate Brayden Yager.

“My team came up on top most of the time [against] Saskatoon, so I got to bug him a little more than he got to bug me,” Mirwald joked.

Mirwald’s cousin, Jake Leschyshyn, has inspired him throughout his hockey career. The Vegas Golden Knights prospect previously played for the Regina Pats and Mirwald watched him play every game of the Memorial Cup in 2018.

“I saw what it was like to play in the Western league and got to ask him questions about how it was. He pushed me to want to go to the Western league,” Mirwald said. “It was a dream for a while and then getting drafted it felt more like a reality.”

On Monday, Mirwald got his first win as a starter, stopping 29 of 32 shots against the Pats in a 4-3 shootout win.

“Couple [moments] there I felt like I was kind of nervous at the first two shots but I settled in. I just think I’d be more settled in by the start of the next one,” Mirwald explained.

Mirwarld is 1-4-1 when starting in net, but has stopped 94 per cent of shots when he’s come in as a relief goalie with Moose Jaw.

“A couple of the guys on the team have just been bugging me saying I play better when I go in cold so maybe I need to start the game five minutes late every game,” Mirwald joked.

“The thing that I talk about with him most is just how he’s even keel. He doesn't get too high or too low regardless of the situation,” O’Leary said.

Mirwald and the Warriors have 11 more games in Regina’s WHL hub.