Warriors moving to round two after victory against Blades

The Moose Jaw Warriors eliminated the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the WHL playoffs. (Brit Dort/CTV News Regina)

The Moose Jaw Warriors defeated the Saskatoon Blades in game five Friday night to advance to the second round of the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.

Warriors forward Jagger Firkus opened the scoring just under six minutes into the game. The birthday boy would find the back of the net twice in the five-three win and would finish the game with 3 points scored overall.

“I think what I thought going into this game was shoot the puck from anywhere and I did that and luckily they went in,” said Firkus.

The Warriors held the lead for the entire 60 minutes which put an end to the Saskatoon Blades season.

“They’re [Warriors are] a great team. They have a top notch offence and I think we matched up pretty well against them,” said Blades captain, Tristan Robins. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the results we wanted and it’s going to be a bitter taste in our mouth.”

The Blades did have a success story this season having the winningest goalie in WHL history between the pipes, Nolan Maier, whose time in the league is now over.

“In my opinion he’s one of the best to put on the Blades jersey and to be between the piped in this league,” said Robins. “It’s been an absolute honour to play with that guy.”

Brennan Sonne, head coach for the Saskatoon Blades, wished Maier the best of luck going forward with his career.

“He’s off to do the next chapter in his life and this is an exciting chapter because this is where you gain autonomy and adulthood,” said Sonne.

The Warriors will have to wait to find out if their second round opponent will be the Winnipeg Ice or Edmonton Oil Kings.

The outcome of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Red Deer Rebels series will determine who the Warriors will play as well.

“It’s going to be tough opponents from now on and obviously Saskatoon was as well,” said Firkus. “But Edmonton and Winnipeg are both strong teams. I think if we play like we did tonight, we have a good shot honestly.”

Warriors’ defenceman Denton Mateychuk thinks there are a couple things for the team to improve going forward through playoffs.

“I think we just have to keep evolving as a team,” he said. “There’s still a few things we have to clean up. I think if we stick to our standards we’ll do alright.”

Mateychuk currently leads the team in post season points with eight.

The team is excited to have some playoff experience under their belt now after two seasons that were heavily affected by the pandemic.

“I think there were probably a lot of guys that were wondering what playoffs were all about and now starting the next round, there’s no more questions about that,” said Warriors head coach, Mark O’Leary.

“I think we understand what it’s about and what you have to do to prepare and have success in that.”