Moose Jaw Warriors

Warriors Open Season with Comeback Win in Regina

September 24, 2022 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Moose Jaw Warriors News Release

One of the Moose Jaw Warriors' team mottos is, 'Circumstances don't change standards,' and the team lived up to that on Friday night.

Despite having six regulars away at NHL training camps, the Warriors leaned on its youth in a 5-4 win over the rival Pats in Regina.

"We talked about being a relentless group and tonight was a great example of that, down a goal a few times, but it didn't change how we played," Warriors head coach Mark O'Leary said.

The Warriors have their sights on a championship this season, but Friday's season opener showed the team's future is also bright with five 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old suiting up in the win.

"We have a lot of young guys in the lineup and I thought it was a real good showing by them and in a real tough environment," O'Leary said.

17-year-old forward Ben Riche started his season off with a bang, scoring twice, including his first WHL goal, in his hometown to help lead the Warriors to the victory.

"I have family and friends here, it was a special moment for me," he said. "It feels amazing to get that first one in the net, it's a special feeling, especially in the hometown rink."

Riche's second of the night came with 7:10 left in the game to put the Warriors in front for good.

Just two minutes before that, 16-year-old forward Lynden Lakovic scored his first WHL goal in just his second game in highlight reel fashion.

That tied the game less than a minute after the Pats had taken their third lead of the game.

"You're always looking for that first one and it felt pretty good to get it in the season opener," Lakovic said.

"Everybody contributed very well and a lot of guys stepped up."

After a scoreless first period, Moose Jaw product Atley Calvert opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the second period.

The Pats responded only 21 seconds later when Cole Dubinsky's bad angle shot found its way into the back of the net.

Regina took the lead on a goal from Tye Spencer 7:30 into the second, but only 37 seconds later, Josh Hoekstra responded for the Warriors, tying the game at two.

Spencer retook the lead for Regina with 7:14 left in the second, but the Warriors responded again when Riche broke in and snapped home his first of the night.

"The boys just progressively got better throughout the whole night," Riche said. "We started off a little bit slow, but that didn't stop us, we played relentless all game and it worked out for us."

Making his first start with the Warriors, 20-year-old goalie Connor Ungar helped carry the Warriors to the win, making 35 saves. O'Leary said he was the team's best player on the night.

"When things get a little bit hairy, you're going to need a goaltender and he was there in the trenches all night long," he said. "Some pretty good shooters shooting on him tonight and had to make the hard saves at big times and that's what you need when you're behind the eight-ball early."

The Warriors were outshot 14-4 in the first period and 30-13 through two periods, but held the Pats to just nine shots in the third, while firing seven of their own on net to come from behind.

Moose Jaw was 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in the win.

These two teams will meet for a rematch on Saturday night at the Hangar in downtown Moose Jaw.

The Warriors' home opener, presented by the Mad Greek, will feature a pre-game party on the concourse with happy hour pricing and a concert by Saskatchewan artist Jordyn Pollard.

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