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Fighting for the final spots

As Luke Warner dusted himself off after his fourth fight at Halifax Mooseheads training camp on Friday night, an impressed fan at Cole Harbour Place hollered, “Love your heart, Warner!”<br />

As Luke Warner dusted himself off after his fourth fight at Halifax Mooseheads training camp on Friday night, an impressed fan at Cole Harbour Place hollered, “Love your heart, Warner!”

The Amherst native hopes Mooseheads’ management loves his heart, too, among his other assets, because he’s in the fight of his life for one of the few forward spots up for grabs.

Warner, along with fellow rookies Ryan Davis, Alexandre Souligny and 18-year-old returnee Dylan McGuigan, are among the best bets for the Mooseheads’ 13th and 14th forward jobs this season, and they’re all doing everything they can to show the Mooseheads they’re worthy.

“There are four of us competing for two spots and I have to do something no one else can do,” said Warner, who was drafted in the 12th round, 197th overall, from the Pictou County Weeks major midgets. “I’ve fought all of the toughest guys out there and I’m trying to set myself apart and make myself look better than them.”

Warner’s fourth fight, coincidentally, was with Davis, an old major midget rival from Sackville who just completed a strong season with the Dartmouth Subways.

Warner and Davis were on the same intrasquad team on Wednesday and Thursday, but the Mooseheads moved Davis to the other side on Friday and he dropped the gloves with Warner off the opening faceoff of the second period.

“They switched it up before the game and I knew it was going to happen sooner or later,” said Davis, who had 34 points and 127 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Subways last season. “It was my first fight this season so I’m glad I got the nerves out.”

Davis, who is five-foot-seven and 190 pounds, also scored a goal on Friday night and has shown the Mooseheads he can lay a good hit and has played a well-rounded game.

“I’m not the type of guy who’s going to get the tap on the shoulder and go fight, but if s--t happens on the ice, I’ll defend my players, I’ll fight for them,” Davis said. “I’ll battle in the corners, get the puck to the net and score the odd goal.”

Warner, who had 19 points and 122 penalty minutes in 34 games last season, hopes to show the Mooseheads he can also be a good penalty-killer and shot-blocker.

But his bread and butter is as a yapping agitator and he hasn’t shied away from chirping Mooseheads veterans such as Garrett Clarke. He hopes there are no hard feelings.

“I play like Sean Avery out there, but off the ice I’m the best guy,” Warner said. “I’ll do anything for my team. The way I see it, whatever happens on the ice stays on the ice, that’s the way I’ve been all my life.”

McGuigan, who is a year older than his counterparts, has been a wrecking ball with his hard hits and got the better of Warner in a fight on Thursday night. He could be well on his way to locking up a spot.

Souligny, meanwhile, is probably the most skilled of the bunch but doesn’t drop the gloves as often as the others do. In the end, it may come down to what sort of team makeup the Mooseheads staff is looking for.

The Mooseheads will take the next step in evaluating their role-playing hopefuls on Saturday, when they open the pre-season in New Brunswick against the Saint John Sea Dogs at 7 p.m. They host the Sea Dogs on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at the Forum.

For the latest on Mooseheads camp and pre-season, follow @metroqfiles on Twitter or visit our Q Files blog.

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