It came down to the final game of the regular season to figure out which team would finish in third place. After a lacklustre performance on Saturday afternoon, the Moose Jaw Generals upped the intensity to finish just one point ahead of the Regina Pat Canadians in the standings.
The Generals shutout the Pat C’s 3-0 in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League action on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place to wrap up the third-place seed heading into the playoffs.
“We talked about the season series beforehand and (how) we just needed to respond from Saturday’s effort. It was lacklustre again. We can’t turn that switch off…we need to play playoff-type hockey and I thought we did that Sunday,” said Generals head coach Ray Wareham. “We were matching lines and it got pretty emotional on the bench sometimes because of the commotion, but I thought the guys really stepped up and did a heck of a job today (Sunday).”
Donovan Neuls got the Generals on the board midway through the first period on the power play. In the second period, the Generals got into some penalty trouble, including taking two late in the frame, but were able to kill off the 5-on-3 with solid defensive plays and goaltending from Grant Naherniak.
“I thought we were fantastic. The only time they really generated anything was maybe on the 5-on-3. I thought even the 5-on-4 penalty kills were good,” stated Wareham.
Naherniak wasn’t busy, making just 19 saves for his first shutout of the season.
“I didn’t think he was overly busy, but he made some big saves for us. He just looked back like his former self again. He was confident and in control of himself,” said Wareham. “I thought he was real good when he needed to be and our guys fed of that. They knew he was on his game. It was good to see.”
Dakota Boutin scored the second Generals goal on the man advantage in the third period on a bullet from the point that beat Regina’s goaltender Logan Flodell. Ben Duperreault sealed with victory with an empty net goal with 38 seconds left in the game.
The Prince Albert Mintos ran away with the first place seed as they finished the season with 71 points. The Saskatoon Contacts finished in second with 64 points and the Pat C’s wrapped up fourth place. With the third place finish, the Generals will host the Saskatoon Blazers in the first round of the playoffs that begin on Friday evening. In the four games they played this season, the Generals won once, lost twice and tied once. There were 12 goals scored combined between those games.
“Both teams are, for the most part, defensive minded and have pretty good goaltending,” he said. “Our games against them were real low-scoring games and we expect the same kind of thing. Hopefully with the home-ice advantage, we can take advantage of that, but it is going to be a tough series.”
The Generals lost veteran forward Trey Tendler in the second period and he is not expected to play on Friday. Captain Rhett Gardner is a possibility, but Wareham isn’t sure yet. They should get defenceman Shane Collins back in the lineup though.
“We are quite sure…he is weak with an upper body injury. He will get re-evaluated Monday, along with Gardner and we will go from there,” he explained of Tendler. “We will wait and see what the doctor has to say. We are planning right now that neither him or Tendler will play on Friday.”