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 Moose Jaw Warriors

Moose Jaw Warriors Complete Sweep in Game 4 of WHL Championship Series

May 16, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Moose Jaw Warriors News Release

Moose Jaw, Sask. - History. Made.

The Moose Jaw Warriors broke away in the third period with a 4-2 win to complete a four-game sweep of the Portland Winterhawks in the 2024 WHL Championship.

This marks the first WHL title in franchise history.

"I can't even describe it," Moose Jaw-born Atley Calvert said postgame. "So much work has gone into this. We've been together for the last four years and to see it all come to an end like this is something truly special."

The Warriors had the fans rocking from the get-go, flexing their powerplay prowess with an opportunity on the man advantage early in the opening period.

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Martin Rysavy parked on the doorstep of the Winterhawks' net and hacked away at the puck until it trickled into the net to open the scoring. Alternate Captains Brayden Yager and Jagger Firkus picked up the helpers.

Moose Jaw has struck first in every game in the WHL Championship Series.

The special teams battle continued in the middle frame, where Portland Captain Gabe Klassen made a featherlight pass to a wide-open Kyle Chyzowski to level the score for the visitors.

Matthew Savoie answered right back with a slick wrister off a faceoff win in the Hawks' zone, netting his tenth goal of the postseason to restore the Moose Jaw lead.

But the final game of the season wasn't going to end easily.

With seconds to go in the second period, Marcus Nguyen swerved to the back door to bury a Nate Danielson feed to tie the game heading into the final 20 minutes.

With five minutes to play and suggestions of overtime zipping through the crowd, Game 3 overtime hero Brayden Schuurman ensured the final game of the WHL season would end right on time.

The veteran's wicked shot clanged off the iron and found twine- though you'd be hard-pressed to hear it over the roar of the sellout crowd.

With Moose Jaw in the lead, WHL Player of the Year Jagger Firkus turned from the ice to point to a number of former teammates who had graduated from the team sitting in the crowd.

Unfinished business, no more.

"It means a lot that we finished the job this year," Firkus said. "How happy I am, how happy I am for the city of Moose Jaw, how happy I am for the guys. I mean, we've grown up together. A lot of us have been together since we were 15 years old. It just means the world to all of us and especially the city of Moose Jaw."

Martin Rysavy erased all doubt with an empty net goal, and the Warriors could barely contain themselves as the clock ticked down, spilling off the bench and sailing through a hail of helmets, sticks and gloves as they swarmed their teammates in celebration.

"The belief never wavered," Savoie, who finally lifted the Ed Chynoweth Cup after falling to the Seattle Thunderbirds in last year's final, said. "I think we were always kind of in the driver's seat in the playoffs and there's no more special group to deal with."

Captain Denton Mateychuk was named WHL Playoffs MVP after netting 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points in 20 games.

"None of this happens without him," Head Coach Mark O'Leary said. "He's a perfect example- when he was 15 years old, (General Manager) Jason Riplinger had this vision of this team right now, when he was 19. Firkus is 19, Yager is 18, Calvert, all these guys, they grew up together. When you have a guy (Mateychuk) like that leading the way, you always feel like you have a chance."

"He's one of the best players, if not the best, player in the league," Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Brayden Yager added. "He showed his leadership in all playoffs and he was unbelievable."

Despite a disappointing loss for the Western Conference Champion Portland Winterhawks, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston says his team played a tight series and he's proud of their efforts.

"It's hard to win at any level, whether you're in the NHL, American League, wherever you're playing," Johnston said. "It's challenging, but the experience of going through the playoffs and having adversity and then getting this close and almost tasting it and then losing, I know will help a lot of those guys. A lot of those guys are going to get opportunities in the future to play. I think it was a special group that we had this year. Certainly great chemistry, great leadership in the room, really proud of all they've accomplished. I think that they'll look back on this year as a special year with their teammates."

The Warriors will represent the Western Hockey League at the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow.

A WHL team has not lifted the Memorial Cup since the Edmonton Oil Kings triumphed over the Guelph Storm.

Moose Jaw will face off against the host Saginaw Spirit, the OHL Champion London Knights and the QMJHL Champion Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Memorial Cup runs from May 24, 2024, to June 2, 2024, in Saginaw, Mich.

And as O'Leary said with a smile before walking off the ice- 'We can't wait."

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