It’s all or nothing.
It’s do or die.
It’s win or go home.
Those hockey cliches, which always sound so dire, might carry a little more weight for the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight when they meet the Brandon Wheat Kings in Game 7 of their WHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at Brandon’s Keystone Centre. Game time is 7 o’clock.
The Wheat Kings have played four Game 7s in franchise history, including two last season. The Warriors, meanwhile, have never gone to a seventh and deciding game in the 19 years that they’ve been in Moose Jaw.
Wheat Kings head coach Dean Clark isn’t putting much stock in that tidbit of information.
“I don’t know if it means anything at this time,” Clark said yesterday via telephone. “Both teams have been through the gauntlet of games in the series so far and both teams have been able to win in each other’s buildings.
“But it’s obviously good that we’re going to have our fans behind us.”
The Wheat Kings are 3-1 in Game 7s, including their 1-1 mark last spring when they beat the Saskatoon Blades 2-1 in an Eastern Conference quarter-final but fell 5-2 to the Red Deer Rebels in the conference final.
Their current series went from a relatively tight-checking affair through the first five games to a shootout in Game 6 on Monday night when Petr Jelinek gave the host Warriors a 7-6 overtime win to force tonight’s decisive match.
“I don’t like how we got (to Game 7),” Clark said, “but those are the kinds of situations you want to embrace. This is where the cream rises to the top.”
Clark wouldn’t say who will start in net for his club, but he is leaning toward the more experienced Robert McVicar. He lost two of the first three games of the series, but Geoff McIntosh, who won Games 4 and 5, was rocked Monday night.