Boyd wonder steps up

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

What a difference a year has made for Dustin Boyd and the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Gone are those depressing days of 2004-05 when the Warriors were WHL doormats and needed 20 games to get their first win.

And Boyd, a Calgary Flames prospect, hopes those days of losing remain nothing but bad memories as he and the Warriors came up on the losing end, 2-1, last night against the Calgary Hitmen at the 'Dome.

Last season, Moose Jaw finished with a 14-47-10-1 record and Boyd said it's the toughest hockey season he's ever endured.

"Last year nobody wants to come to the rink when you're losing. The atmosphere wasn't great in the dressing room," said the 19-year-old, who was a third-round draft choice (98th overall) by the Flames in 2004.

But that was then and now the Warriors (9-3-1-1) sit fourth overall in the WHL.

Boyd said the fact his club managed to make the post-season last year (only because the 12-50-4-6 Regina Pats were that much worse) made a big difference heading into the current campaign.

"It was actually a confidence booster this year after we made the playoffs last year," Boyd said.

In addition, Moose Jaw lost only three players from last year's club and that's meant a big difference in the team chemistry.

"Everyone's older and our team's really gelling this year. We're taking advantage with our speed, getting the puck to the net and things are going well for us," said Boyd.

Things are pretty smooth for the Winnipeg product as well. Boyd is second in the WHL scoring race with 22 points (14g, 8a) and trails teammate Troy Brouwer (26 pts) for the lead.

Unfortunately for Boyd, his goal-less drought reached three games last night as Warriors ran into a spirited Hitmen club.

After two scoreless periods, Calgary (11-4-0-0) got on the board first when Freddie Petterson fired a wrist shot from the circle that beat Warriors goalie Joey Perricone.

The Hitmen made it 2-0 on Ryan White's powerplay marker as he banged home a rebound from a Jeff Schultz point shot. It turned out to be the game-winner as Moose Jaw got one back when Brouwer scored in the final minute with the goalie pulled, ruining Justin Pogge's bid for back-to-back shutouts.

White said the win was a big statement by his club.

"We could be the real deal if we want to be. We've got the guys in this dressing room and when we come to play and work, we are the best team in the Eastern Conference," said White, who now has five goals.

"It showed in the last two games. We came out, worked hard for the first 20 minutes in both games then our skill level has taken over and we're playing good defensive hockey. Teams aren't getting chances on us."

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HIT PARADE: Calgary F Cam Lilley (leg), F Darryl Moscaluk (suspension) D Justin Faulk and F Isaac Reid were scratched ... The Hitmen wrap up their six-game homestand today (Saddledome, 5 p.m.).

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CALGARY HITMEN: 2

MOOSE JAW WARRIORS: 1


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