Warriors robbed by Bandits
The Saddle Lake Warriors came up short against the Lloydminster Bandits at Manitou Kihew Arena on Friday evening, falling 7-4, but things are looking up for the Warriors, who have been battling adversity after losing head coach Terry Ewasiuk.
“Terry resigned a few games into the season there. He had personal reasons for that, and that’s pretty much all I can go into,” said co-coach Dallas Jackson, adding that he and fellow assistant coach Ben Ross have taken over behind the bench for the Warriors. “I started the season as assistant coach, and we still don’t really have a head coach, but me and Ben Ross kind of split the duties.”
Warriors leading scorer Dallas Desjarlais added that it’s been difficult adjusting to the changes in the locker room, but the team has been making the best of it.
“That’s the tough part for us. We’re kind of still getting used to it,” said Desjarlais. “It’s working out pretty well so far, we just didn’t really have it today.”
The Warriors had a very strong start in Friday’s game, jumping to a 2-0 lead on goals from Jojo White and Buddy Morin in the opening 10 minutes, but things began to unravel in the dying minutes of the frame.
With 90 seconds left in the first period, Bandits forward Jarett Aschenbrenner cut the lead in half, and less than a minute after that, Kolten Anderson evened things up before the break.
“We let off the gas a little bit. We could have put them away early in the first period but we let them back into it,” said Dylan Maton, who wore the captain’s C in Friday’s game. “There’s a lot more to it than just wearing the C. I like the logo on the sweater more than the C.”
Just over two minutes into the second period, Anderson was called for a tripping infraction, putting the Warriors on the power play, but despite the man advantage, the Warriors let the Bandits steal away a goal, as Aschenbrenner potted his second of the night to give Lloydminster a 3-2 lead.
While the Warriors managed to get the power play rolling later in the game, and Kevin Krengtektak evening things back up at 3-3, Bandits forward Anthony Regnier put the game on his stick, and closed out the second period with a pair of even strength goals, giving Lloydminster a 5-3 lead.
Three minutes into the third period, the Bandits then extended the lead to 6-3 on a goal from Jarrett Weighill.
Only a few moments later, Warriors leading scorer Dallas Desjarlais managed his 10th goal on the season, cutting the deficit to two goals with plenty of time to mount a comeback, and bringing life to Manitou Kihew Arena.
Desjarlais has exploded offensively this season, and currently sits second in the league in assists, with 25, and third in points with 35.
“I just decided to be more of a team player and pass more, like a lot more,” he said, adding that he’s also improved his offensive awareness without the puck. “I’m starting to shoot and get open for my teammates now and helping build more chances.”
The Warriors continued to battle the Bandits, but once again came up short on the power play, and allowed the Bandits to counter with a shorthanded goal, this time from Chris Romanchuk.
“We started strong tonight. We just couldn’t hold them back,” said Jackson. “(The Bandits) are a very strong team.”
Jackson added that while the Warriors came up short, they continued to battle for goals for the full 60 minutes, without sacrificing discipline, something that he said the team has been working on all season.
“(Discipline) was the first thing we wanted to work on when we came in here. It started with Terry and carried on with me and Ben . . . It helps when we’re not in the box the whole game,” said Jackson, adding that he likes the Warriors’ chances as the post-season approaches.
“We’ve got a young team mixed with some good vets, and I think we might be a dark horse come playoff time. We’ve got a lot of offensive talent and some good D, and our goalies are usually pretty good.”
The Warriors played again on Saturday night, falling 3-2 to the Vermilion Tigers.