Warriors Fall in Tight Season Opener


Nick Murray

The WHL is back and your hometown Warriors are playing regular season hockey again. 

The team is coming off of a fantastic 2017 season in which they were the top team in the league until falling in a tough seven-game playoff series to the eventual Champion Swift Current Broncos. 

Much of the teams firepower from last year's campaign has moved on and are furthering their careers elsewhere (Halbgewachs, Howden, Burke, Clague, Sosunov and more) and it's expected by many to be somewhat of a rebuilding season for the tribe. This year's club will likely revolve around returning vets Justin Almeida, Ryan Peckford, Tristan Langan, Jett Woo and Josh Brook, plus a pair of pesky Belorussians who were added to the mix in the off-season. 

2018's opening game was at Westoba Place in Brandon against the Wheat Kings.

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Late in the gritty first period, Tristan Langan took a 5-minute major for slashing that put the Wheat Kings on the power play and they made no bones about forcing the Warriors pay for that egregious attack. Stelio Mattheos, who had a stellar 90 points in 2017, put Brandon up 1-0, with a nice assist from defenceman Schael Higson.

Higson got right back into the thick of things in period number two, scoring 16 seconds into it to put his boys up 2-0. Not good for Moose Jaw.

Photo Credit: Brandon Wheat Kings

Photo Credit: Brandon Wheat Kings

Sharpshooting Justin Almeida cut that lead in half around the halfway point in the period on an assist from Langan, who was somewhat redeeming himself for that costly slash back in the first. 

Almeida had 98 points in last season's campaign and is now wearing an A on his jersey. 

Brecon Wood thought he had the equalizer shortly after that, but the goal was called back.

The score would remain locked in at 2-1 until the final buzzer sounded, both goalies (Adam Evanoff for Moose Jaw and Jiri Patera for Brandon) were sharp, but it was an especially impressive opener for Evanoff, who took over starting duties when Brody Willms suffered a season-ending injury. Evanoff had a total of 34 saves on the night compared to Patera’s 28.

The games three stars were Mattheos, Higson and Almeida.

The Warriors will be in Moose Jaw for the sold out home opener on Saturday night, again they will tangle with the Wheat Kings. And somebody is going to win upwards of $200K on a 50/50 ticket carried over from last year. Read more about that here: The Three R’s of 50/50.