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 Moose Jaw Warriors

Yager Takes his Game to Another Level During Championship Run

June 18, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Moose Jaw Warriors News Release

Moose Jaw, Sask. - Brayden Yager showed the different levels of his game over the course of the Moose Jaw Warriors' championship season.

Coming off an outstanding regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect found another gear during the Western Hockey League playoffs, playing a key role at both ends of the ice for the Warriors.

"I like to think of myself as a player that rises to the occasion," Yager said after the season. "I feel like I can step up in big situations and be a leader in that sense, but I thought it was a great year overall."

Yager finished tied for second on the Warriors in scoring during the regular season with a career-high 35 goals and 95 points in 57 games, blowing away his previous career-best points per game mark at 1.67.

He carried that play over into the post-season where he finished with 11 goals and 27 points in 20 games as he helped the Warriors to the franchise's first Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Despite Moose Jaw going 1-3 at the Memorial Cup, Yager had a strong showing, finishing with three goals and six points in four games and being named to the tournament all-star team, along with Captain Denton Mateychuk.

"Coming into this year, a year older and a lot more confident, but I can't do it without my teammates," he said, "Playing with [Jagger Firkus] - he had an incredible year - and [Denton Mateychuk], the defenceman of the year, and getting [Matthew Savoie], he was a huge pick up for us, and you can't do it without your teammates."

Originally selected with the third overall pick in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft, Yager was a key part of the Warriors' core that the team built around since the Hub Season in 2020-21.

The Saskatoon product had seven goals and 18 points in 24 games as a 15-year-old to show the promise that the team hoped would help lead them to a championship down the road.

"Right from the first day I threw on a Warriors jersey, it was about building up for this year," Yager said. "To see all the hard work over the years pay off, and all the times that we got knocked down and we just kept getting back up, this year was pretty special and to get the job done with this group of guys is incredible."

Yager said the ups and downs that the team went through as a group helped make them a stronger locker room.

"Sometimes it sucks in the moment, but looking back on it, you realize how much closer it brings you together," Yager said. "The long bus rides after a loss and nights of just being together, it goes by so fast, but looking back on it, the whole journey brings you together.

"It showed throughout the whole year, the resiliency of our group. We went through a couple of tough stretches throughout the year where we just couldn't find a way to win a game, it felt like, and we'd end up getting back up and going on a nice winning streak."

The growth of the group together and new additions fitting into that dynamic led to the success during the highs and lows of a playoff run like the Warriors went on.

"The [Swift Current] series, losing the first game 7-2 and then bouncing right back and winning a big one, then winning four straight and then the Saskatoon series just speaks for itself and the hard fought battle against those guys, it just goes to show our group is as tight as we say it is and we each other's backs the whole year and it's pretty special," Yager said.

After the special season that the Warriors put together, Yager said he's focusing on resting up with his family for a few weeks before getting back to work.

"It's going to be a short summer," he said. "I'll have to rest quick and get back in the gym and get stronger and get ready to give myself the best chance to make the Penguins, so it's going to be an exciting summer."

Yager will be heading to Pittsburgh next month to take part in the Penguins' Development Camp.

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