Despite being only five games into the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League season, the Moose Jaw Generals are taking nothing for granted, including first place.
Heading into their game on Thursday evening against the Saskatoon Contacts, a team also fighting for first place and the team that eliminated the Generals from the playoffs last season, the Generals were looking for a statement victory.
“That’s exactly what we talked about and even though it is real early in the season, we were coming in tied for first place. This was a first place game,” stated Ray Wareham, head coach for the Generals. “They knocked us out last year and I think the guys that were here last year had that in mind and really put forth an effort tonight (Thursday).”
The Generals came out with fire in the first period with Rhett Gardner scoring just seconds into the opening shift. The Generals finished with a 5-4 overtime win on the road. Rykr Cole, Stephen Wilson and Regan Nagy added goals for the Generals. Gardner and Nagy finished with three points each.
“We started off quick…we scored on the first shift and got some momentum and guys were flying,” said Wareham. “I thought that line of Gardner, (Trey) Tendler and Nagy really set the tone from the opening shift tonight and they were flying all night. They scored that goal and got us going early. I think everyone fed off that first shift and it got everyone going and I think everyone played well tonight.”
The Generals were looking for an improvement following a 5-1 loss to the Prince Albert Mintos on Oct. 7.
“After that game (Mintos), I don’t think anyone was happy with their play. We had a good practice, video and meetings on Tuesday and we challenged the guys and I thought they really responded,” stated Wareham. “It was our best effort this season so far.”
Grant Naherniak was in net for the Generals, as Ryland Pashovitz, who was suppose to get the nod was ill. He made 35 saves on 39 shots for the win.
“He was just fantastic tonight and made some huge saves for us in the end to give us a chance in overtime,” he said. “When we did break down, Naherniak was real good for us.”
The Generals will play back-to-back games in North Battleford this weekend and are hoping to continue to play with confidence.
“Everyone talks about the Contacts and the Mintos all the time, but what about the Generals? We want to dictate the pace and I thought we did that from the first shift tonight (Thursday),” stated Wareham. “Now the challenge for us is to make sure we continue to do that no matter who we are playing and if we take that into this weekend and make Battleford play up to us…hopefully good things will happen for us.”