Although the Moose Jaw Generals finished with a similar record as last season, they are seeded a rank higher and face a different opponent. The one thing remains — home ice in the first round of the playoffs and hopefully the advantage.
The Generals continued to practice this week on Wednesday afternoon at Mosaic Place as they get set to host the Saskatoon Blazers in Game 1 of their playoff series on Friday (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).
“The guys have been pretty upbeat this week and we’ve had a couple good practices. There isn’t too much intensity, more just flow stuff and power play options at the end,” said Generals head coach Ray Wareham. “There seems to be a pretty good atmosphere and they are having fun. We are looking forward to Friday night.”
The Blazers finished 12 points behind the Generals in the standings, but the teams scored a total of 12 goals in their meetings this season.
“We just don’t think we have played our best hockey against them, so our guys are confident that if they play their best, we can compete with them and hopefully produce more offensively,” said Wareham. “The big thing is that they seem pretty upbeat, relaxed and not too nervous about things. But, that could change by Friday night.”
Goaltending and defence will be the main component of this series, but the team has some veteran presence in those areas. The goaltending duo of Grant Naherniak and Ryland Pashovitz has been strong all season and there are three defencemen that were part of the team last season.
“We are a pretty young team, but we do have some key guys, especially in the goaltending position where they have been through it before and played some pressure situations last year. That should help…and our back end with the three veteran guys (Brett Bohlken, Tanner Davies and Ty Vallee),” stated Wareham.
The Generals will be short-handed to start the playoffs as veteran forward Trey Tendler is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. Captain Rhett Gardner is a question mark, as he has a shoulder injury.
“He is questionable right now. It is up in the air, he is going to see the doctor again on Wednesday afternoon. If he does play, it is going to be uncomfortable,” Wareham said of Gardner.
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.