It has been a couple of years, but after a strong start to the regular season, the Moose Jaw Generals are headed back to Calgary.
The Generals are one of the 25 male teams invited to compete at the Mac’s AAA Hockey Tournament, beginning on Boxing Day. There are also 15 female teams invited.
“We are in a tough pool out there,” said Generals head coach Ray Wareham. “So, we have our work cut out for us.”
The Generals are in Pool 4 which also has the Calgary Royals, Lloydminster Bobcats, Red Deer Optimist Chiefs and a Czech team Pirati Chomutov.
“It is going to be a good challenge with facing adversity,” Warham said.
There are five other teams from the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League also attending: Tisdale Trojans, Battleford Stars, Saskatoon Contacts, Saskatoon Blazers and Prince Albert Mintos. The Notre Dame Hounds were the last SMAAAHL team to win the tournament in 2006. A combined Russian team — Severstal/Locomotiv — won the title last year.
“We are really excited to hit the Mac’s. It is a really good tournament and it will be some good competition,” said Generals forward Ben Duperreault. “We are going to see some good teams there and we are going to try our best to get the wins.”
The Generals will be without their captain and leading scorer, Rhett Gardner as he was named to be part of Team West for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Québec.
The Generals will also be without defenceman Drew Fellner who is injured and goaltender Grant Naherniak, who is going to Red Deer for Christmas. With those players out, some affiliated players — Braydon Delorme, Riley Cannon, Regan Seiferling and Brett Banda — will go along with the team to fill some holes.
The Generals will begin the tournament against the Chiefs, who sit in first place in the Alberta Midget Hockey League on Dec. 26. The Chiefs are the defending Telus Cup midget AAA national champions.
Teams face each of their opponents in their pool before moving to a single elimination knockout format to determine a champion. Each pool winner, plus three wild cards advance to the quarter-finals.