The Moose Jaw Generals continue to roll as they opened their regular season with two wins over the weekend.
After going undefeated in exhibition play, the Generals were hoping for the same type of hard working team to show up once the points were on the line. It appears they did just that.
Head coach Ray Wareham was pleased with how his team played on Saturday and Sunday.
They played hard and dominated the final 40 minutes against the Prince Albert Mintos on Saturday and came out with a 1-0 victory. Goaltender Grant Naherniak had to stop just five shots in the second and third periods to earn the shutout.
This was an important game on the schedule for the Generals, as these two teams should be fighting for the top spot in the standings throughout the season.
The Generals are hosting the 2014 Telus Cup and have put together a strong team at all three positions. The Mintos have always been a hard team to beat, as the Generals haven’t won in Prince Albert for five years. They are holding the western regionals this year, meaning they too should have a strong team as well.
On Sunday, the Generals didn’t have the same consistency and Beardy’s Blackhawks made them pay. However, with the firepower the Generals have up front, they were able to pull off a 7-5 win.
That is not exactly “Ray Wareham” tight hockey that the team is used to playing, but the encouraging sign for Wareham was how effective the team was at fighting back.
The line of Brayden Delorme, Trey Tendler and Riley Cannon combined for seven points against the Blackhawks. That line saw some action last year when Delorme and Cannon were APs for the Generals, but the match has been struck early with this trio and they will be expected to score a lot of points this season.
The veteran line of Dakota Boutin, Donovan Neuls and Rykr Cole will also be expected to have big seasons. They combined for six points in the two games over the weekend.
Goaltender Grant Naherniak started off the season with a 16-save shutout. He played both games and will be handed the majority of the starts this year in the crease.
The 17-year-old was drafted by the Red Deer Rebels and made his WHL debut last year. He is talented and is quick in the crease. He has a strong and clear head and has been able to bounce back from a rough outing.
Although he was disappointed to be returned to the Generals this year, he will be relied upon heavily this season to help backstop this team into the Telus Cup final.
The team looked strong in their pre-season games, but they didn’t face very difficult teams. Facing the Mintos and Blackhawks to start the season, which is what Wareham and assistant coach Jeremy Ebbett wanted, so they could see where they stack up against hard working and skilled teams.
It was only two games, but if the Generals continue to play the system that Wareham has instilled this season, it could be a very productive season. Their young guys who struggled in the first game will gain valuable experience and will grow throughout the season.
It will be interesting to see how they match up against the Regina Pat Canadians this Saturday on the road. They will host the Swift Current Legionnaires on Oct. 10 (7 p.m., Mosaic Place) for their home opener.
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