Generals need more in second half

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A report card from first half action

The first half of the season wrapped up for the Moose Jaw Generals on a good note.

The team is unbeaten in 13 games, but the team has been inconsistent up to this point.

They hold a 16-6-4-0 record, good for fourth place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings.

However, the team struggles with a consistent effort each and every game and coaches Ray Wareham and Jeremy Ebbett continue to press for simplicity in their play.

I spoke with Wareham as the team is on a small break before they head to Calgary for the Midget AAA Mac’s Tournament about his thoughts on the first 26 games of the season. Read the full story on the Times-Herald website.

Taking a look at the team as a whole, they have been successful, if not lucky, so far this year. As the host team for the Telus Cup in April, this team has high expectations. They need to be better in the second half of the season if they don’t want to be sitting around for a month and half before the Telus Cup.

I asked Wareham to give a report card of his team. His general consensus was “we need to be better.”

This is my report card of the team, along with a comparison of what Wareham gave his team.

Goaltenders – A

Grant Naherniak and Colby Entz have been fantastic for this team.

Entz currently sits in third in league goaltending statistics. In 11 games this season, he has a goals against average (GAA) of 1.94 and a .934 save percentage. Naherniak has started 17 games for the Generals and has a 2.85 GAA and .900 save percentage. That is good for 10th in league stats. Impressive from both of them.

Wareham also gave his backstops an A on their performance thus far.

“They have been pretty solid for us back there,” said Wareham. “We have had a couple games where we had some blowouts against us, but not necessarily their fault. They have been pretty steady for us.”

Defence – C

The group has struggled at times getting pucks out of their zone and get beat when trying to pinch in on the offensive zone.

Three of the six defencemen are rookies, but the same mistakes are being made over and over again. The top three veteran defencemen haven’t always showed their knowledge of the league and don’t carry confidence every game. The team needs to the defence to get smarter and tougher in the second half.

Wareham gave his defensive group a B- for their work so far.

“That might be generous” said Wareham. “I think it is just them thinking they are better than they are. They get outside of themselves and what has made them successful to this point. They try to do too much and things don’t go their way and it piles up on them.”

The best thing for the defence to do is: “when they simplify things and are just moving pucks quickly and more north and south, they are an effective group back there.”

Forwards – B-

The forward group has been a mix of good and bad. Every player has at least a point and five players are in the top 50 in league scoring, with Trey Tendler leading the team with 36 points.

However, the group has been inconsistent and has struggled to play as a unit at times in games – too much individual effort.

Wareham gave his forwards a B, although he “expected more” from the group.

“I don’t think any of them can say they have been consistent other than the Tendler-Delorme-Cannon line, who I would definitely keep an A,” he said. “The young guys have taken a little longer to catch on and adjust to the league. I thought it would happen quicker for them, but it hasn’t. It isn’t for a lack of effort from some of them.”

The team has had to deal with some personnel changes after the coaches released two players. However, the players have adjusted well and the camaraderie on and off the ice seems to be better.

“The guys have adjusted well to it and given some other guys some opportunities they might not have gotten if we didn’t make those changes,” said Wareham.

The players are capable of being a top team if they choose to be. It will be up to the veterans on this team to step up in the second half and deliver. The Telus Cup is coming here and they have a lot to prove before April.

The Generals return to league play on Jan. 9 against the Notre Dame Hounds (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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