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Pre-season Roundup: Broncos blank Warriors to open WHL exhibition campaign

 

It might seem hard to believe, but another Western Hockey League season is right around the corner.

The 2017 WHL pre-season opened its doors Tuesday evening as the Moose Jaw Warriors played host to the Swift Current Broncos to start off the exhibition slate.

Just as they did in their Eastern Conference first round series back in the spring of 2017, the Broncos got the best of the Warriors, skating to a 4-0 victory at Mosaic Place Tuesday night. This time around it was a pair of back-to-back first-round selections inflicting the damage.

Ben King, the 13th overall choice from the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, registered a hat trick to spur on the Broncos offense. Alongside him, it was Logan Barlage – the fourth overall selection from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft – notching three points of his own to help the cause.

Barlage opened the scoring with a power-play tally 10:09 into the first period and continued to make his presence known by adding two more assists later in the game. The 6-foot-4, 201-pound product of Humboldt, Sask., is expected to be among the elite class of rookies during the 2017-18 campaign, and a three-point performance in his first pre-season outing certainly provides a little bit of insight.

After starting the scoring, Barlage drew helpers on two more Broncos’ power-play goals. With only 43 seconds to go in the first period, King made it a 2-0 game with his first strike of the night.

After taking a 2-0 advantage into the first intermission, the Broncos extended their lead as King notched his second of the game with another power-play effort midway through the second period. With 7:40 to go in regulation, King executed on an unassisted play to complete the hat trick, giving Swift Current a commanding 4-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Between the pipes, 17-year-old Joel Hofer and 15-year-old Ethan Hein split duties for Swift Current, combining for a 20-save shutout. Hofer steered aside 12 shots, while Hein blocked eight. At the other end, 16-year-old Ethan Fitzgerald carried the complete load for Moose Jaw, stopping 23 pucks.

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