The Moose Jaw Warriors were hoping for a better start Saturday night.
What they got was more of the same suffering inflicted 24 hours earlier when the Winnipeg Ice administered a 6-1 drubbing in Game 1 of a WHL Eastern Conference semifinal at Wayne Fleming Arena.
In Saturday’s Game 2, a 7-0 Ice triumph, centre Jack Finley opened the scoring 2:49 into the game and added his fourth of the playoffs 46 seconds later as the Ice stormed to 3-0 and 6-0 period leads.
“It was just a carbon copy, it seems,” said Ice head coach James Patrick of his team’s quick start. “… I can say the exact same thing I said last night — it just gives us such a such a boost. I think there’s a little sag on their team and we’re off to the races.”
Power-play goals by Connor McClennon and Mikey Milne and short-handed markers by Matt Savoie and Zach Benson put the game out of reach for the Warriors, who have been tied with the Ice for a mere 3:06 in the series. Moose Jaw starter Carl Tetachuk, who stopped 16 shots, was lifted after Milne’s goal and the Ice leading 5-0. Jackson Unger came on to make 11 saves on 13 shots. Benson leads his team in playoff scoring with six goals and 14 points in seven games.
Winnipeg went 2-for-5 on the power play, upping its post-season mark to a league-leading 12-for-20 (41.4 per cent).
The Warriors were scoreless in three chances but appeared to score late in the first period when Denton Mateychuk’s shot found its way behind goaltender Daniel Hauser as time was running out. Replay officials ruled the puck crossed the goal-line after the buzzer.
“I really liked how we played as a team tonight again but when we do have breakdowns he just makes it look easy,” said Patrick. “But his quickness and his reading of plays — I mean, he’s done it all year — but you’ve really notice that at times like this.”
It was another superb outing for Finley, who added a 16-for-21 faceoff success rate to his stat line.
“The big thing is you’re playing the same guys every single shift and you kind of pick up little things that they do and it’s definitely something that I take a lot of pride in my game,” said Finley, explaining his success on draws. “You’re thinking about it after the game, before the game. What are you going to do? And you try to be offensive and not wait to see what they’re doing.”
Hauser made 27 saves, including a stellar stop on Eric Alarie in the third, for his first post-season shutout. He had eight clean sheets during the regular season.
A sore point for the Warriors came with 45 seconds left in the first period when McClennon was assessed a charging minor for an open-ice hit on Moose Jaw centre Ryder Korczack.
Fortunately, Korcack was able to return to action after the intermission.
Chase Wheatcroft completed Winnipeg’s scoring in the third period with his first of the post-season.
The Warriors will host Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven series at Mosaic Place on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
THREE STARS: Three stars: 1. Zach Benson, Winnipeg (one goal, three assists); 2. Jack Finley, Winnipeg (two goals); 3. Daniel Hauser, Winnipeg (27 saves).