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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
Saddle Lake Warrior Tyler Haineault celebrates one of four goals scored en route to a 7-4 Warriors victory over the St. Paul Canadiens at Clancy Richard Arena on Dec. 20.
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Haineault's four-goal night leads Warriors past Habs

Dec 31, 2013 06:00 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

The Saddle Lake Warriors shook off a seven-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the St. Paul Canadiens at Clancy Richard Arena on Dec. 20.

After giving up the lead in five of the Warriors last six losses, the team managed to get on top and stay there in the Dec. 20 match up against the Canadiens, ending the 2013 portion of the season on a high.

“I think holding the lead tonight was about the boys being on their game. They had their head on right,” Warriors co-coach Ben Ross said. “They want to keep St. Paul as the main rivalry, so they fought extra hard to keep that alive.”

Canadiens leading scorer Jalel Abougouche put the Habs on the board first with his 17th of the season, a power play goal from Cody Selezinko six minutes into the game, but 90 seconds later Tyler Haineault evened things back up with his 16th of the year.

Less than a minute after Haineault’s tying marker, Warriors affiliate player Preston Sparklingeyes scored to give Saddle Lake the lead, 2-1, and the Warriors took over the period, potting another two from Brandon Cantre and Haineault to extend the lead to 4-1.

“We lost this game in the first period. We played an absolutely terrible first period and when you go down 4-1 it’s tough to get back into a hockey game,” said Canadiens head coach Joe Young. “We gave it away there.”

The Habs battled back in the second period, as Jamie Wozniak cut the Warriors lead down to two just over a minute into the frame, and Tyler Bunce drew the Canadiens within a goal with his ninth of the year.

With just over a minute remaining in the second, Haineault completed the hat trick and re-established a two-goal lead for the Warriors, but Wozniak stepped back up and slipped a shorthanded goal past Warriors netminder Davis Houle to bring the score to 5-4 after 40 minutes.

“For the final two periods we battled back and made it a hockey game and could have easily won it,” said Young. “Unfortunately it’s just one of those games where I thought we should have been more prepared, and we threw up a stinker in the first.”

While the Habs continued to press offensively throughout the third in an attempt to even the score, Houle shut the door on a number of chance opportunities and Haineault potted his fourth goal of the evening to give the Warriors a 6-4 lead, bringing his current season goal total to 19.

Houle stopped 25 of 29 shots to lead the Warriors to victory with an .862 save percentage on the evening.

“(Houle) had an outstanding performance. He did his job as a goalie and he was there to capitalize on the puck every time it was near him,” Ross said of Houle’s performance in goal. “He made the right plays, if there was a chance for a player to be open he would give it to the D right away, he was on the ball.”

Dallas Desjarlais added an unassisted empty net goal to bring the final score to 7-4 in favor of Saddle Lake, a decisive victory brought about by solid discipline.

“We’ve just got to stay out of the penalty box and we’ll play well,” said Houle, adding that the victory has given a morale boost to the Warriors locker room. “It’s way better than it was before when we were losing.”

Haineault led the Warriors offense with four goals and an assist in the victory, while Wozniak potted a pair of goals for the Canadiens, and Abougouche managed a goal and three assists. Abougouche and Haineault currently sit tied for third in the league in goals scored, with 19 each.

The Canadiens traveled to Vermilion on Saturday evening and closed out the 2013 portion of the season with a 4-3 victory over the Tigers.

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