Generals ready for next test

Katie Brickman
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Team opens SMAAAHL playoffs against Regina Pat Canadians

The road to the Telus Cup is set to begin for the Moose Jaw Generals.

Moose Jaw Generals head coach Ray Wareham (centre) holds court with his players at the end of practice earlier this season at Mosaic Place. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

The Generals finished in fourth place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and will face the fifth placed Regina Pat Canadians in the first round of the playoffs.

The action gets underway on Saturday (1:30 p.m., Mosaic Place).

“It is going to be a hard fought battle,” said forward Rykr Cole. “We just need to stick to our systems. We know they are a tough team … so just doing the little things is going to be key. I think our forecheck can cause a lot of turnovers on their part.”

The Generals won the season series with three victories and one overtime loss to a score of 15-10 and finished four points ahead of Regina.

However, the team isn’t taking the regular season into account now that it is a best of five series.

“I would say it is all new for us,” said Grant Naherniak, goaltender for the Generals. “It doesn’t matter what team we are playing, but it is good that we have home ice advantage. Hopefully we can establish a win here Saturday night.”

Having home ice is an important for the team, as they hope it gives them an edge over Regina.

“It is really important, as you play in your rink all year and you get used to all the bounces and cracks in the rink,” said Naherniak.

The Generals got a rude awakening last weekend against Yorkton when they could have secured third place, but tied and lost in overtime. They are using that as a learning experience.

“I don’t think it was what we wanted, but I can take some positives out of that,” said Cole. “We need to be better. We just need to bring our A-game every night … anything less than that is not going to get the W.”

For the first time all season, the team also has a full roster. Regan Nagy, who has missed the majority of the season to a back injury returned to action last weekend and Generals captain, Trey Tendler is feeling good after a nagging shoulder injury.

“If there was any time, now is the time to have a full lineup,” said Jeremy Ebbett, assistant coach. “Playoffs are a grind. You are going every second day and travel and sickness, so a full lineup is huge.”

Another positive for the Generals will be light travel in the first round. Instead of playing a team like Tisdale, they get an easier drive.

“It is definitely easier when you only have a 40 minute bus ride instead of four hours. Getting home at 10:30 at night instead of 2 in the morning,” said Ebbett. “The guys get more sleep and hopefully they don’t get as run down and keep sickness away. Travel-wise, it is way better.”

The team is focusing on all aspects of their game, including specialty teams, a strong forecheck and taking care of the defensive zone at practice this week. They are also focused on coming to each game mentally prepared.

“We can’t have any off nights or even off shifts,” said Cole. “We are pretty focused right now. We are ready for the playoffs.”

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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