Winnipeg Ice strike first in 2nd round playoff series against Moose Jaw

The Winnipeg Ice blew an early three-goal lead but woke back up in the third period to win the series opener.

The Ice scored three times in the first 17 minutes on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Friday.

After going down by three goals early, the Warriors stormed back with three straight goals to tie the game. But the Ice added two more goals in the final frame for the Game 1 win.

“With 10 days without a game it was a bit tough to get into it,” said Ice forward Owen Pederson. “But once we were into it, we were rolling. And a couple breakdowns here and there, but for the most part I liked our effort. We played good but we’ll be even better tomorrow.”

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“I think we went out and earned it,” said Ice head coach James Patrick. “We played a real good third period, had a lot of zone time.

“There was some breakdowns, some mistakes, obviously. First 10 minutes was outstanding.”

Ice leading scorer Zach Benson returned to the lineup after missing the start of the playoffs with an upper-body injury. He scored once in his his first game back after sitting out for more than a month.

“It’s pretty hard after five weeks off,” said Benson. “But I thought our team played well and we gutted an ugly one out there.

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“I felt pretty rested. The legs felt good. The lungs felt good and I just thought overall we played a good team game.”

Matthew Savoie recorded three more points with a goal and two assists for Winnipeg. He now has seven goals and five assists in just the first five games of the playoffs.

Pederson, Connor McClennon, and Graham Sward also scored for the Ice.

Brayden Yager, Maximus Wanner, and Jagger Firkus replied for the Warriors in the Game 1 loss.

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Winnipeg outshot Moose Jaw 37-29.

Daniel Hauser made 26 saves in net for Winnipeg, while Connor Ungar stopped 32 shots between the pipes for the Warriors.

The Ice were without forward Zack Ostapchuk who was serving his one-game suspension for cross-checking.

The Warriors were the only team in the WHL to beat the Ice three times as they split the six-game season series.

The WHL’s regular season champion Ice swept the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round and are now riding a seven-game win streak, regular season included.

The Warriors had a four-game sweep of the Lethbridge Hurricanes to start the playoffs.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Saturday again at the Wayne Fleming Arena with puck drop set for shortly after 6 p.m.

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