After a fourth-place finish last year and a loss to the Saskatoon Contacts in the semifinal last March, the Moose Jaw Generals are excited for another Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League season to begin.
The Generals finished 2-2 in the pre-season as well as 1-2 at a exhibition series in Calgary and are ready to tackle some new goals this season with some new faces. The main goal for this season was the same for last season.
“Like every year, we want to be in the top four. We believe we can be in the top four, so that is the biggest expectation off the start,” stated Ray Wareham, head coach for the Generals. “We had a meeting last night where we went over some seasonal and short-term goals that we are trying to accomplish.”
With only nine returning players from last season’s squad, the Generals will have a new identity to carve out early, but feel they are ready to compete for a top spot. With seven new forwards, the Generals have a nice mix of skill and speed up front that will be able to provide the offence for the team.
“Hopefully we can score a little more than we did last year. Our power play really struggled at times last year, so hopefully adding that skill element will help that part of our game out,” said Wareham.
The Generals have three new faces on the back end and three returning players. All defencemen will provide some stability for the forwards and goaltenders and those three returning players will be looked upon to help the younger players through some of the growing pains.
“We have three guys back there — Tanner Davies, Ty Vallee and Brett Bohlken, who we expect to lead the way back there. We feel like we’ve added some younger guys that can step in and contribute right away. I think depth wise, we are deeper than we were last year,” he explained.
Last season, both Grant Naherniak and Ryland Pashovitz were in the top half of the goaltenders in the league in both goals against average and save percentage. Wareham will be expecting the same type of play they provided last season. The two will be in a rotation again.
“We have arguably two of the better ones in the league. I think that last year, they got experience under their belt and they have even more confidence. They are comfortable with challenging each other and I think they feed off each other,” he stated. “I think that’s a good thing for us as a team because they are going to push each other to get better each day. They do it in practice and if one has a good game, the other wants to step up and answer the call the next time he is in between the pipes. It is only going to benefit us. It worked last year and we are hoping with their experience, they are going to be better this year and if that’s the case, we could be pretty stingy defensively this year.”
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.