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Moose Jaw Warriors win Western Hockey League championship

Moose Jaw wins first WHL title in team history with 4-2 win over Portland Winterhawks in Game 4

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- The Moose Jaw Warriors have won the Western Hockey League championship for the first time in team history.

Moose Jaw took a 4-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks in Game 4 of the WHL Final on Wednesday night at the Moose Jaw Events Centre, giving the Warriors a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.

It ended up as another close and hard-fought game, with opening seven minutes or so a back-and-forth affair, with neither team getting much by way of scoring chances.

A crosschecking penalty to Josh Davies on Denton Mateychuk in the Warriors zone gave the Warriors their first power play, and they’d capitalize.

Martin Rysavy staked himself out in front of the net and got hold of a rebound off a Brayden Yager shot before tucking it past Jan Spunar at the 8:11 mark.

The game was delayed around 20 minutes with seven minutes to play in the first period when a weather-related power outage knocked secondary lighting out at the Events Centre, but the game resumed without incident.

A late-period holding penalty to Owen Berge put Portland on their first power play, but the Warriors would kill it off, setting off another string of play where neither team had many chances.

That all changed late in the second when a two-many-man call against the Warriors gave the Winterhawks to tie the game, and they’d take advantage.

Kyle Chyzowski got to the front of the net and managed to redirect a shot from Gabe Klassen, tying the game 1-1 with 5:29 to play in the period.

Not long after Portland nearly took the lead when a turnover in the Warriors zone eventually led to a great scoring chance for Diego Buttazzoni, but Jackson Unger would get across to make the save and received a helping hand from Voytech Port when he pulled the puck off the goalline to maintain the tie,

Seconds later, the Warriors took the lead. Atley Calvert won a face-off in the Portland zone back to Matthew Savoie, and his shot would beat Spunar for a 2-1 edge with 4:23 to play in the frame.

Three minutes after that goal, it was once again tied.

The Winterhawks finished off some slick puck movement in the Warriors zone when Nate Danielson sent a pass from behind the net to Marcus Nguyen in front, and he’d outduel a Warriors defender before lifting the puck past Unger.

The Warriors came out flying in the third and had two great chances back-to-back, first when Jagger Firkus hit the post on a breakaway and seconds later Brayden Schurrman had a wide-open chance at the side of the net but put it off the mesh.

A cross-checking penalty to Kalem Parker 2:32 into the period gave Portland a chance to take the lead, but the Warriors would kill the penalty off, and the teams once again settled into high tension hockey.

It all led to Schuurman taking a feed from Rilen Kovacevic out of the corner and getting off a shot from the right face-off circle that beat Spunar for a 3-2 Warriors lead with 5:53 remaining in regulation.

The Warriors put on the defensive clamps from there and held Portland to only a handful of chances the rest of the game, leading to Rysavy finishing things off with an empty net goal with 2:27 to play.

The rest of the game was a cacophony of sound and celebration as the Warriors fans chanted ‘We Want the Cup’ until time ran down and the celebration was on.

Unger finished with 24 saves for the win, Spunar stopped 22 in the loss.

The Warriors will now have a week-plus off to prepare for the Memorial Cup, which begins May 24 in Saginaw, Mich.