Squad opens five game stretch against top SMAAHL teams
For the next week and half, the Moose Jaw Generals will need to play some of their best hockey.
© Katie Brickman
Moose Jaw Generals goaltender, Grant Naherniak had a strong performance on Sunday against the Prince Albert Mintos. He will need to have another sharp outing tonight (7 p.m., Mosaic Place) when the Generals face the league leading Notre Dame Argos. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
The team currently sits fourth in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings, but play the top three teams in five games in a matter of nine days.
“It is a tough schedule, so the focus is just to play a simple game and not overlook the competition,” said Grant Naherniak, goaltender for the Generals.
The Generals will open the stretch with a game against the league leading Notre Dame Argos tonight (7 p.m., Mosaic Place).
“They are a real skilled team that can move the puck quickly,” stated Shane Collins, defenceman for the Generals. “If you break down in the structure and on the forecheck, they will just pick you apart and put the puck in the net.”
The Argos have a 27-6-2-0 record and forward Dillon Dube is the league leading scorer. Their goaltending duo of Dylan Ferguson and Matt Kustra has a combined goal against average of 5.57. The team also leads the league with 183 goals scored, whereas the Generals have scored 116 goals thus far this season.
“We just want to make sure we are strong. We can’t give them too much. We have to keep our feet moving and I think the neutral zone is going to be a big part of the game,” said Ray Wareham, head coach of the Generals. “If we take that away from them, I think it bodes well for us. But, if we give them that neutral zone, they have talented kids that can carry the puck. We could be in for a long night if we give them space.”
The Argos blew out the Generals 10-2 in their first meeting of the season, but their second game drew to a 5-5 tie. That earlier loss is still thought about by many in the locker room.
“It is in the back of your mind and it gives us a little more determination because we know we can play with them,” stated Collins.
With two meetings in a week and one game in hand, the Generals are hoping to move up the standings.
“Since we play the Argos twice, you start doing the math and being eight back, then win both games and win the game in hand, all of the sudden you are only two back and anything can happen,” stated Wareham.
The confidence is up in the room, as the Generals are currently on a three game winning streak, but also because they passed a tough test last Sunday against Prince Albert.
“It has been a tough go so far with the Argos, but I think we are feeling confident and will bring the best to the table,” said Naherniak.
Naherniak is a calming presence in the net for the Generals and they will need him to have a solid game against the Argos.
“For me, I don’t try and think of how good they are or worry about who we play. I just need to stay on my game and play like I can,” he said. “We just need to play our system. We can’t get individual out there. We have to play as a team.”
This will be the toughest stretch of the season for the Generals and they will have to show up with intensity and a strong effort.
“We really want that home ice and we really want to get into first place,” said Naherniak. “We know as a team, we have to play those teams ahead of us and we have to beat them if we really want to compete in playoffs this year.”
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