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'A rival there': Warriors and Broncos set to face-off in round 2

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The Western Hockey League (WHL) second round playoff series will get underway on Friday and the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos will meet in the post-season for the first time since 2018.

“There’s a bit of a rival there even from 2018 when we won it. They went to game seven there and it was a bit of a bloodbath,” chuckled Broncos’ goalie, Reid Dyck. “So hopefully we can come out on top again, but it should be a really fun, entertaining series.”

“I think it’s exciting. Two really good teams, pretty close together. So I think you know the fans [will be even] going at it,” joked Warriors forward, Brayden Yager.

“I think it’s going to be a great series. Obviously two league favourites meeting in the second round. From here on out we’re playing championship hockey and I know they’re feeling the same way. I know they’re getting prepared and we just can’t wait for Friday to get it going,” added Broncos’ captain, Owen Pickering.

Both the Warriors and Broncos are coming off of first-round sweeps in the playoffs. The two teams met six times during the regular season and split the season series.

They even had the same goals for and goals against stats. Despite Moose Jaw finishing seven points ahead of Swift Current, the two are seen as a fairly even matchup.

“A lot of similarities between the two teams. I think the depth of our forward groups is very similar, our back end, the goaltending has been good for both teams,” Bronco’s Head Coach Taras McEwen explained. “So I think just the different style of play. They want to turn over pucks, they want to beat you on the rush and you definitely have to do a good job defending.”

Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary agreed with the sentiment.

“I think both teams can score goals and have guys on the backend that are reliable which is real important. Certainly like our guy [Jackson Unger],” O’Leary said. “But it’ll make for a great second round series. I know both buildings will be energized and excited.”

The goaltending is expected to play a significant role in who comes out on top this series as both Unger and Dyck are proving to be dominant between the pipes, something they carried over from the regular season.

“It’s going to be whoever makes that one save. I never know when it’s going to come in a game,” Dyck said. “One save often makes it or breaks it. That being said the guys have done a great job in front of me to block shots.”

“I think he’s the best goalie in the league,” Pickering boasted, regarding Dyck. “When we play, we know that we can have a lot of confidence when he’s back there.”

Warriors forward Matthew Savoie also complimented Unger’s abilities.

“Ever since [I got traded here]. He’s [Unger’s] been playing lights out. Every game he’s in we know we have a really good chance at winning.”

“It’s going to be more intense games [this round],” Unger said. “But I think if I just stick with my game and what I’ve been doing all year, it’ll pay off.”

Swift Current won their central division and because of that the team technically finished second in the Eastern Conference and the Warriors placed third. However since the Warriors recorded more points during the regular season they earned home ice advantage.

“It’s what we play for all season long. So certainly take advantage of it. We’re excited to start at home but at the same time whether we’re on the road or at home you do need to play to a certain standard,” O’Leary said.

“Obviously game one is an important one. I think the thing about playing Moose Jaw is it’s a short drive. Obviously Swift Current [fans] travel really well. I know our fans have been talking a lot about coming up for the game. So I think we’ll have a lot of energy and it’ll be a lot of fun,” McEwen added.

Games one and two will take place in Moose Jaw on Friday and Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Three and four will see both teams head to Swift Current on Tuesday and Wednesday. All four games are expected to sell out.

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