Warriors down Habs, extend lead to four points
The Saddle Lake Warriors (5-16-1) extended their lead on the St. Paul Canadiens (3-21-1) to four points, defeating them by 6-3 on home ice Saturday evening.
After 10 minutes of defensively driven play, St. Paul’s Jordan Hogan took a four-minute double minor for a butt-end jab, and the Warriors stepped into the driver’s seat.
“That’s the story of the whole year, basically,” said Canadiens head coach Joe Young, adding that special teams have been an issue on both sides of the puck all season. “It just comes down to moving the puck quick and moving your feet, and we’re just not doing that right now.”
Ninety seconds into Hogan’s penalty, Braedin Makokis McGilvery finished off a pass from Dallas Desjarlais to open the scoring and keep the Warriors on the power play for another two minutes.
Twenty seconds later, the duo repeated the feat, beating Habs net-minder Austin Rediron to the back of the net with a hard shot to give the Warriors a 2-0 edge.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, because it’s going pretty good so far,” said Desjarlais, who had four assists on the night. “We just got to know the guys better on our team, we bond more and it’s getting better each day and each practice.”
“They’re playing our system now, they’re starting to buy in,” Warriors head coach Darryl Buck said of the Warriors’ recent efforts. “We’ve still got a ways to go, we’re missing a couple of players but we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve got teams worried.”
With three seconds remaining in the opening period, Barry Partridge added a third goal for the Warriors to put the Canadiens in a deep hole at the break.
Saddle Lake carried the momentum over, and Makokis McGilvery took only a minute to complete his hat trick on a feed from Dylon Maton.
Leading 4-0, Buck made the decision to give backup goaltender Brandon Watchmaker a shot between the pipes, but the decision quickly backfired.
“We thought we’d give him some ice time. He gets to sit on the bench a lot, so we wanted to give him a chance to show what he can do,” Buck said. “It didn’t go the way that we wanted it to go. It kind of opened our eyes and let us know exactly where we’re standing with our goalie situation.”
While Makokis McGilvery added his fourth goal of the evening a few minutes following the change, the Canadiens mounted an onslaught that saw them deposit three goals from Jalel Abougouche, Tanner Hellquist and Tyler Bunce, bringing the Canadiens back into the game. The onslaught also saw the Warriors put starting goalie Dyllon Laboucan back at the net.
Laboucan picked up right where he left off, shutting the door on the Habs until the final buzzer as Makokis McGilvery added his fourth of the night and Jordan Moosewah added one of his own to bring the score to 6-3.
“It seemed like when we changed the goalie, the boys stopped skating too, they didn’t support (Watchmaker). Then when we put Laboucan back in, they picked it up again and scored right away,” Buck said. “They should have just kept going with it and (Watchmaker) would have played the whole game.”
Young was very disappointed with the Canadiens’ effort in the loss, adding he feels the team’s issues stem directly out of poor mentality.
“We’re just not focused, plain and simple. It’s disappointing in a big game like this. I hope they think about it and it hurts real bad because it’s something that should never happen, and unfortunately they play when they want to.”
The victory brings Saddle Lake to within 12 points of the Vegreville Rangers (10-12-3) with 14 games remaining in the season, and Laboucan is hopeful that his team can close that gap before the post season.
“I feel like we’re right up there with (Vegreville). We’ve just got to win the next couple of games,” Laboucan said. “We’re developing as a team and it’s working great.”
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