Warriors advance to first WHL final in 18 years with 3-2 OT win over Blades

Lynden Lakovic scored 36 seconds into overtime on Tuesday to lift the Moose Jaw Warriors past the Saskatoon Blades 3-2 and into the Western Hockey League (WHL) finals.

“Our coach [Mark O’Leary] is always saying, throw it on the net and something good might happen,” Lakovic said after the game. “I thought I would just try to throw it there and maybe a greasy rebound would happen. And I was lucky enough to get a bounce off of one of the [Blades] skates.”

It’s the first time in 18 years that the Warriors will play for the WHL’s Ed Chynoweth Cup. Moose Jaw will face the Portland Winterhawks, with Game 1 set for Friday.

Ethan Semeniuk and Jagger Firkus also scored for Moose Jaw, which came back from a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven third-round series. Warriors goalie Jackson Unger made 37 saves Tuesday.

The Moose Jaw Warriors scored first against the Saskatoon Blades in Game 7 of their playoff game on May 7, 2024. (Liam O’Connor/CBC)

Easton Armstrong and Vaughn Watterodt replied for Saskatoon, which got 22 stops from Evan Gardner in net.

Firkus broke a 1-1 tie at 10:13 of the third period before Watterodt knotted the contest with 3:07 remaining, eventually sending the contest to extra time.

The series went to overtime six times across its seven games — the most in modern WHL history — including the last two that Moose Jaw needed to win the series.

“It doesn’t get any closer than that,” Lakovic said. “If these teams were to play 10 series, I bet you there’d be a different winner each time.”

WATCH | Blades vs. Warriors series makes WHL history: 

Blades vs. Warriors series makes WHL history

The Moose Jaw Warriors eliminated the Saskatoon Blades with a 3-2 victory in overtime Tuesday night. Six of the seven games in the series went to OT, making WHL history.

Blades captain Trevor Wong, who had one assist Tuesday, said his teammates shouldn’t hang their heads despite the loss.

“I mean, six games of overtime, a seven-game series that could have gone either way. One bad bounce [and] our season’s over just like that,” Wong said.

Blades head coach Brennan Sonne said his team played hard.

“I thought we put ourselves in a good position and we left it all out there,” Sonne said.

“We had a a staff, a group of players that just worked so hard to be in this position, completely dedicated, all in and just really sad that the result didn’t go our way.”

Hockey players on ice near goalie.
The series went to overtime six times across its seven games. (Liam O’Connor/CBC)

Warriors head coach Mark O’Leary said he has never been part of a series that featured six overtime games.

“It feels like it was a heck of a series. But as much as you say before playoffs start you want to enjoy it and be in the moment and really enjoy the the process, you don’t really have time to enjoy it,” O’Leary said.

“We’ll talk about that in the summertime, but we’ve got to start preparing for Friday’s [game against Portland].”

Fans of both teams came away impressed.

Warriors fan Darwin Sewap said he was nervous when the game went into overtime.

“I couldn’t believe what they did out there. And just one little shot, one little play and they got it done,” said Sewap.

“It was amazing hockey,” said Blades fan Trevor Grismer, who has been bringing his daughter to games for the last five years. “It  didn’t go our way, but you know, you can’t ask for any better hockey.”

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