Moose Jaw overager turns aside 40 shots, carries shutout into final four minutes in 3-1 Warriors victory
On many an occasion during the 2021-22 season, the Warriors were beneficiaries of impressive goaltending from their overage netminder, leading to more than one win when the result could have been different..
That all led to Carl Tetachuk eventually being named an East Division second-team all-star after putting together a brilliant season between the pipes.
Based on how things went down in Western Hockey League action on Wednesday night against the Saskatoon Blades, the Warriors look to have another 20-year-old standout goaltender in their midst.
Connor Ungar turned aside 40 shots — including a handful of the spectacular variety — to pick up his third win of the season as the Warriors battled to a 3-1 victory at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.
“That’s kind of how you write it up, especially as a goalie, coming away with a win after getting outshot you feel pretty good about yourself,” said Ungar, who played 34 games for Red Deer last season and put together a 2.43 goals against average and .911 save percentage. “It’s a big game for myself but at the end of the day it’s on to practice tomorrow and we have a big weekend coming up.’
Ungar wasn’t exceptionally busy in the early going, making nine saves in the first period, but Saskatoon took advantage of a handful of power plays to turn up the pressure in the second, outsooting the Warriors 20-11.
That’s where Ungar was able to step up, as he made a handful of big saves throughout the period, including a backdoor pad save on Brandon Lisowsky on a Saskatoon power play early in the frame.
Ungar was tested again early in the third on a Trevor Wong breakaway but was up to the task with an assist from a hard backcheck by defenceman Lucas Brenton. And again with just over seven minutes gone when he robbed Connor Roulette with a right pad save on a two-on-one in close.
The ice was severely tilted in the Blades’ favour most of the period, as they’d outshoot Moose Jaw 12-2 in the frame.
“I thought I was tracking [the puck] really well, I was getting ahead of the play so it was just being quick on my feet and giving myself time,” Ungar said of his key to success. “They’re a pretty good passing team but I was able to beat a lot of plays with my feet and that gave me a chance to make a lot of saves.”
The Blades kept up the pressure and were rewarded with 3:48 to play. Igor Sideroff took a shot from the point and had the rebound go right to Roulette at the side of the net, with a quick shot getting Saskatoon within a goal at the time.
The Warriors had taken the lead on their first power play of the game four minutes into the proceedings, as they were rewarded for a full 1:30 of solid puck movement in the Saskatoon zone with their first goal of the game.
Jagger Firkus got off a hard shot from the right face-off circle and had the rebound pop right out to Atley Calvert in the slot, with the Moose Jaw Minor Hockey product making no mistake with a quick blast into the open net.
There things stood until 13:19 of the second period, when Tate Schofer took a partial breakaway feed from Riley Niven and fought off the Saskatoon defender before chipping a shot over Blades goaltender Ethan Chadwick.
Roulette’s goal made things interesting as the clock wound down, but Jagger Firkus scored an an empty net marker with 1:22 remaining to close out scoring.
Chadwick finished the night with 20 saves for Saskatoon.
The Warriors improved to 3-2-0-0 with the victory and currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Saskatoon are also 3-2-0-0 on the season.
Moose Jaw is back in action on Saturday night when they host the unbeaten Winnipeg Ice, with game time 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.