Skip to content

Keeping on keeping on: Warriors Savoie aims to keep momentum going in second round

After successful showing in first round against Wheat Kings, tougher series expected in second around against Swift Current
Moose Jaw Warriors forward Matthew Savoie led the team in scoring in the first round and will look to keep that momentum going when things open Friday in round two.

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- To say the least, the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs went exceptionally well for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

A four-game sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings sent the local squad into the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Swift Current Broncos, and the Warriors have been preparing for what’s expected to be a far tougher second-round battle since.

No one had more offensive success through the first four games of the WHL postseason than Warriors forward Matthew Savoie, who had five goals and eight points to lead the league in scoring and the end of that series.

The important thing now will be to keep that momentum going as the Warrior seek to find another level to their game after turning it up in the opening round,

“You obviously switch the page in playoffs, you want to play even harder and the stakes go up so much that everyone is even more dialled in,” Savoie said after practice on Wednesday afternoon. “Going into the Brandon series, we did some really good stuff on the video side, talking about their systems and how we can shut them down. I thought we executed in the first three games and in Game 4, we just had to dig deep and finish them off. That’s the toughest game to win and it‘s great we were able to.”

So how do the Warriors keep things rolling as well as they have? The answer to that question is nothing new.

“I think it’s just trying to stay on an even keel as possible,” Savoie said. “Not getting too high when things are going good and not getting too low when things are going bad. I think this team can do that pretty well, just staying in the moment and staying positive about what’s going on.”

The good thing is the Warriors have no shortage of veterans with playoff experience who are capable of doing just that. A good number of their crew hit the 20-game mark in the postseason for their careers last series, with Savoie the team leader with 33 games heading into the second round.

“It’s just the calmness of going through it before and having that experience of playing meaningful games when it matters the most,” Savoie said. “Lots of guys in this locker room have lots of experience, so being able to lean on those guys for calm energy is going to be key.”

One thing that’s for certain is the Broncos offer a different set of problems compared to the Wheat Kings. More scoring, a more experienced defence and all sorts of success after the trade deadline make for a much more difficult out for the Warriors.

“They have some really good size to them and have some players who have been around the league and been really successful,” Savoie said. “You have to be aware when certain guys are on the ice because they can make you pay, but if our team does a similar thing to last series and dials in our systems and takes advantage of little breakdowns in Swift’s game we can execute on, I think we’ll have some success.”

One of the players to watch in the Broncos’ line-up is, of course, Conor Geekie. The Broncos’ 19-year-old had 99 points in the regular season and further four goals and six points in the opening round. Savoie and Geekie played together for three seasons and part of this year before post-World Juniors trades led to the match-up beginning this weekend.

“It’ll be cool to play against him in some big games after playing with him the last four years,” Savoie said. “There won’t be much communication going on for the next couple of weeks, we’re friends off the ice but we won’t be friends on the ice for the next two weeks, for sure.”

Making things all the more exciting is the fan response. 

Both Games 1 and 2 are down to the last few standing-room tickets, meaning the Moose Jaw Events Centre will be absolutely packed with fans when the puck drops on Friday night. It’s a similar situation in Swift Current, where tickets reportedly sold out in minutes for both Games 3 and 4.

“I think that’s huge for us,” Savoie said. “We can feed off our fans and even in Swift Current, we can feed off that energy in that barn. There will be pretty good crowds in both arenas this series and I’m looking forward to it.”

Puck drop for both Game 1 and 2 is 7 p.m., and be sure to arrive early to beat the rush!