Decent first half of season for Telus Cup host
By Katie Brickman
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Donovan Neuls, second from left, is all smiles after scoring his third goal of the game Saturday night.
The first half of the season has had some major ups and some big downs for the Moose Jaw Generals.
“It was a nice rollercoaster ride,” said Ray Wareham, head coach for the Generals.
With a 16-6-4-0 record in their first 26 games, the Generals sit in fourth place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings, just one point behind the Battleford Stars.
Although Wareham is happy with the record, it has been an uphill battle some nights.
“I didn’t think it would take us as long to catch up, but in saying that, we just have to keep getting the message across,” he said. “I think a lot of guys have bought in, but we aren’t going to win if you don’t have the full commitment from everybody. Keep trying to get the message across and hopefully it will pay off when it counts in April.”
The Generals are unbeaten in 13 straight games, having lost last on Nov. 14 against Swift Current.
“I think we have a good team if we want to be. The undefeated in 13 (games) … it surprises me how we got there because we have had a lot of luck on our side. You need that to be good too,” said Wareham. “It is a tough message to get across to the guys when you continue to find ways to win, but not necessarily playing your best hockey.”
The Generals have struggled on the power play throughout the first half. In the month of November, the team went 8-for-36 on the man advantage. The team seemed to have found some rhythm in December as they went 16-for-60 on the power play.
“It has been like our first half of the season, a little bit of a roller coaster. We look good at times, we move pucks extremely well and then at other times, it looks like we don’t have a clue of what we are doing,” said Wareham. “When we do struggle on the power play, we seem to want to win one-on-ones. Our puck support hasn’t been fantastic. But those are things we continue to teach and it is getting better. I think we are scoring more frequently on the power play lately.”
However, the Generals have been solid when short handed. In the month of November, they allowed only 11 power play goals to opponents. Their numbers were even better in December, as they allowed just four goals in 47 attempts.
“It has been real good since the start of the year,” said Wareham.
Sitting atop of the standings are the Notre Dame Argos, the Prince Albert Mintos and the Stars. Between those three teams, the Generals beat the Mintos twice this season, lost and tied the Argos and beat and tied the Stars. They face those three teams twice more each in the second half of the season.
“We seem to rise to the occasion when we play those upper echelon teams and we seem to let our play slip off when we play teams below us in the standings,” stated Wareham. “Hopefully we will get in the second half and have a good run.”
In the first half, the Generals played 17 games on the road and only nine games at home. However, when the team regroups in January, the team will play just five road games and 13 games at Mosaic Place.
“We are tickled pink with our record, especially with all the road wins,” said Wareham. “If we can take care of business in the second half with those home games, we should be sitting in pretty good shape come playoff time.”
For a report card on the first half of the season, visit Between the Lines.