Friday night marked the opening day of the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs. But it was just another day, and another win for the hometown Winnipeg ICE, who improved to 5-0 in the postseason with a 5-3 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors from Wayne Fleming Arena.
The ICE welcomed Zach Benson back to lineup following a significant upper-body injury suffered back on March 10 against Edmonton. And it didn’t take long for the projected Top-5 2023 NHL Draft selection to make his mark.
The 17-year-old scored his first of the postseason just 7:57 into the game, with regular point producers Conor Geekie and Ben Zloty getting the assists on what was Winnipeg’s second goal of the game. Matthew Savoie got his seventh goal of the playoffs before the period expired, giving the ICE a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes.
Moose Jaw scored three-straight goals to tie things up before the third period rolled around, but it was Winnipeg that came out to play in the final frame. Connor McClennon and Graham Sward each scored before the period was half over, putting the ICE up 5-3.
Goaltender Daniel Hauser shut things down over the final 20, as he picked up his fifth win of the playoffs, stopping 26 of the 29 shots he faced.
Five ICE players recorded multi-point outings, with Savoie leading the way with a goal and two helpers in the series-opening victory. Both teams went 1/2 on the power play. Winnipeg outshot Moose Jaw 37-29 on the night.
The ICE and Warriors won’t need to wait long to renew hostilities, as the teams will regroup for Game 2 on Saturday evening at 6:00 PM central time. Some tickets are still available for purchase from www.WinnipegIce.ca.