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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Playoffs Come Early: Warriors Prepare for Weekend Road Trip

By: Joey Battaino

We have entered the last month of the season, and the Michigan Warriors are in a familiar place. They sit in the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division, seven points up on last place Jamestown. But there is a kicker, Jamestown has five games in hand on the Warriors. Thankfully for the Warriors, those five games for the Ironmen are on the road.

The Ironmen sport a 4-16-1 record away from Jamestown. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they have struggled away from Perani Arena as well. Coming into this weekend, the Warriors are 6-17-2 on the road. They head into this two game weekend match up 0-3-1 at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, but are 5-4-1 against Jamestown for the season.

The Warriors are coming off another tough weekend at home, in which they lost 4-2 and 7-2 to the Springfield Jr. Blues. "We can't give up as many goals as we have been." Said Warriors leading scorer A.J White. "We've been working on our 5 on 5 defensive zone coverage this week. We just need to simplify our game."

You never want to put too much emphasis on a regular season game, but each of these games this weekend is in essence a four point swing. Also, after this weekend, the Warriors have only seven games remaining this season. Six of which are against Port Huron and Kalamazoo, the top two teams in the division. Even with the playoff-type build up this weekend is getting, the Warriors remain confident, " We're a pretty loose team." Said A.J White. " No need to put any added pressure on ourselves. We need to play our systems and be confident in them."

The stage is set for a great hockey weekend. Won't you join me for the call of all the action Friday and Saturday March 3rd and 4th at 7:05pm ET when the Jamestown Ironmen host the Michigan Warriors. Live coverage can be seen on PPV and you can listen live for free on  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

D'oh: Springfield Sweeps Weekend Series with Warriors

By: Joey Battaino

Flint, MI- With the Jamestown Ironmen idle this weekend, the Michigan Warriors had a chance to pad their seven point lead for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North division.

Their opponent was the Springfield Jr. Blues (23-23-2). The Blues had already beaten the Warriors twice this season is Springfield. "Both games were nail bitters" said Warriors head coach Moe Mantha in an interview before Friday's 4-2 loss, "I think the key (to this weekend) is who comes prepared to execute the team systems."

Friday, the Warriors started sluggish. In fact, It wasn't until the third period before they were able to solve Springfield netminder Gabe Antoni. Michael Economos finally got the Warriors on the board at the 11:41 mark of the thrid. They trailed 3-1. Then, Bobby Mantha scored only 24 seconds later. It was 3-2 Springfield. Coach Joe Dibble called a timeout to settle the troops, and it seemed to work. The Blues were able to bare down and Gavin Tufte put the icing on a 4-2 Springfield win Friday night.

Coming into Saturday, The Warriors knew they would have to play a full 60 minutes if they wanted to win. Unfortunately for them, it was Springfield that came out firing. Springfield lead 3-1 after one period. The Warriors got close in the second as Matus Matis made it a one goal hockey game, 3-2 at the 8:24 mark. But after that, it was all Springfield. They closed out the night with four unanswered goals and left Perani Arena with a 7-2 convincing win and the weekend sweep.

The Warriors have been outscored 21-8 in the last 4 games at home. Not the kind of effort you would expect from a team fighting for their playoff lives. The Warriors started the season a blazing 10-2-1. Since then they have gone 8-26-4.

We will see what kind of effort the Warriors bring to Jamestown as they prepare for a Saturday night showdown with the Ironmen. The game is at 7:05pm and can be heard on and viewed live on PPV with yours truly on the call.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Take 'em way up North: Warriors dazzle at NAHL Prospects

By: Joey Battaino

Troy, MI- This season, Moe Mantha chose three players to represent the Michigan Warriors at the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. They did not disappoint. The North finished tied for 2nd place with the South division with a 2-1 record.

A.J White, who was drafted by the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, had a goal and an assist in three games. White was on a line with fellow Warrior Joey Ferriss and Jamestown Ironmen scorer Anthony Coles. White was also a plus (+/-) 2.

Joey Ferriss turned a lot of heads in Troy with his three point performance and two goal game against Midwest. Ferriss picked up the game winning goal in that game, and 8-1 triumph for the North.

Defenseman Derek Knetter picked up an assist in three games and had 4 shots. Derek was very solid on the back end. He was paired with Ferris State commit Zach Dorer of the Traverse City North Stars.

The Warriors continue regular season play Friday and Saturday, the 24th and 25th, from Perani Arena when they host the Springfield Junior Blues. Tickets are only $7 and $8. Listen to the game live on Supertalk1570am and

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Heroics from Tiller Preserve Warriors Comeback Victory

By: Joey Battaino

After Friday nights embarrassing 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Bandits, the Warriors knew they had to bring a better effort into Saturday nights game against the first place Bandits.

It started much like Friday night, in a sense that the Bandits were winning the battles and holding the Warriors down in their own end of the ice for the better part of the first period. Fortunately, Brach Tiller was on his game, stopping all 11 shots St. Louis put on him in the first. There was no scoring after one period.

In the second, The Warriors picked up the pace. Drew Kariofiles was whistled for a penalty and A.J White scored his team leading 26th goal of the season on the power play. The Bandits quickly tied it up off a won draw by the captain and Davison, MI native Joe Kalisz. The original shot was stopped by Tiller but Kalisz got to his own rebound and shelfed it for his team leading 26th of the season. Kalisz would go on to have a record breaking weekend. He was a part of all 9 goals the Bandits scored against the Warriors. (3 G 6A) The Warriors received a too many men on the ice penalty at 7:31 and Josh Dangel scored to make it 2-1 St. Louis after 2.

In the third, Captain of the Warriors, Marty Gruse took a penalty and veteran Wes Elrod made the Warriors pay. He unleashed a cannon for about 45 feet that Tiller didn't even see. It was 3-1 Bandits and the goal appeared to be a back-breaker. But at 10:21, Chris Eckler scored his 12th of the season from Sheldon Taylor. It was 3-2 St. Louis. Then, Bandits D-man Brett Bauza was shown the gate for slashing. Sheldon Taylor scored his first as a Warriors to tie it up at 3. The building was rocking. The Warriors had answered the challenge of coach Moe Mantha and for the final act, Chris Eckler who's become a much more complete player this season scored his second of the night from B squared (Bobby Bodette and Bobby Mantha) to give the Warriors the lead with 2:08 to go in the game.

The next two minutes and eight seconds was the Brach Tiller show. He made 5 point blank saves on the St. Louis offensive specialists, robbing Joe Kalisz twice. The Warriors would hold on for a 4-3 victory. They now lead Jamestown by 7 points for the final playoff spot in the North division.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Murphy's Law: Stars hand Warriors ninth straight loss

Traverse City, MI- The Michigan Warriors came into Friday nights contest versus the Traverse City North Stars losers of eight straight games. And with the fifth place, Jamestown Ironmen closing in on the Warriors final playoff spot, this was a huge game.

It started with the home team striking first. Former Lansing Capital (AAAU18) Connor Durgan tallied his first junior hockey goal at the 11:37 of the first. A.J White was quick to answer, scoring his team-leading 25th goal at 15:47. Jared Van Wormer scored just 34 seconds later to give Traverse City the lead at 2-1. Then, with only 13 seconds remaining in the first, Marty Gruse scored his 13th of the year to tie it up 2-2 after one period.

The team would exchange goals in the second. Sean Murphy (North Stars) and Joey Ferriss (Warriors) both scored in the second. It was 3-3 going into the third.

The Warriors went hot and cold in the third. Marty Gruse's penalty at the 4:24 mark proved to be costly as Sean Murphy scored his second of the game and the game winner. Jared Van Wormer adding his second of the night on an empty netter and Traverse City won it 5-3.

Brach Tiller was in net tonight and made 30 saves for the Warriors. A.J White had a goal and two assists. Joey Ferriss had a goal and an assist and Marty Gruse had a goal and a helper.

The Warriors host the Jamestown Ironmen tomorrow evening for Perani Arena & Event Centre at 7:05. Tickets available by calling (810) 744-0580.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"No Panic" for Warriors Heading into this Weekend

By: Joey Battaino

It's been well documented that the Warriors have struggled as of late (even on the teams website) but before the panic alarm is pulled, lets take a look back at the 2010-11 North Division playoff champion, Robertson Cup Runners-up. 

In February through Early March of 2011, The Warriors had a stretch in which they lost seven out of eight games. Including a weekend in Traverse City, where the Warriors dropped both games to the North Stars. From then on, the Warriors went on to win 8 of their final 9 games and push Janesville down to 4th in the division, getting them a first round battle against the Traverse City North Stars and the rest is history. 

It's been said the Warriors should be "Playing for Pride" Why play for pride, when you can play for the Robertson Cup? In case you haven't noticed, the Warriors are currently in the playoffs with a 5 point lead over 4th place Jamestown and only trail 3rd place Traverse City by six points with 14 games remaining. The Warriors have 2 games remaining against the Ironmen, one at Perani Arena and one in Jamestown.

If Jamestown plans on overtaking the Warriors, they have a long road ahead of them. In this case the pun is intended with their final 9 games being on the road against divisional opponents. Jamestown boasts a 4-13-1 road record for this 2011-2012 campaign. If the numbers don't lie, and according to a certain writer they NEVER do, then it is going to be quite the uphill battle for the Ironmen if they want to take over the Warriors for the forth and final playoff spot.

Experience: We have it, they don't.

When you look at a team that is heading down the stretch run, experience plays a somewhat unknown yet very key factor. The Warriors veteran leadership goes all the way down the depth chart. Marty Gruse, Chris Eckler, Bobby Mantha, A.J White, Bobby Bodette, Sheldon Taylor, Derek Knetter, Ben Gislason, Travis Hill, Brach Tiller. These are all players that have been in the league before and have been in this situation. When the playoffs come, It's not about skill, it's about will. Mental toughness. Talent will only carry you so far in the playoffs. Chemistry and comradery are keys to any successful franchise and I see this team coming together again, at just the right time.