Ray Wareham has talked about the importance of special teams all season.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Moose Jaw Generals goalie Grant Naherniak makes a kick save during Thursday's scrimmage at Mosaic Place.
The Moose Jaw Generals head coach knows they're going to be even more important for his team during the Telus Cup when the midget AAA national hockey championship begins on April 21.
Thursday, the Generals used their final on-ice scrimmage to work on special teams and empty net situations as they continue to prepare to host the tournament.
"I love frustrating myself, so I thought we'd do that," said Wareham of the extended special teams scrimmage. "Actually I thought we did some good things. (Team) White looked good and (Team) Red did some good things, but if (goalie Grant) Naherniak plays like he did tonight during that week we'll have a shot to win."
The Generals penalty kill worked on some specific things that they feel they might see from the Halifax Macs and Okanagan Rockets in their first two games. He expects that by and large they will have to make in-game adjustments to their penalty kill, but felt it was a good chance to try some wrinkles.
The emphasis was still on their power play.
"Our power play has really struggled, so we were more working on what we're doing," said Wareham. "Our guys have to realize that we have to shoot pucks. We get puck possession all of the time, but we don't take a lot of shots.
"You're on a power play for a reason, you don't want to try to beat guys one-on-one. We have a real bad tendency of trying to do that all the time. You end up turning the puck over. The puck will move faster than any penalty kill. If we move pucks and get pucks to the net we'll have success."
The Generals were 2-for-15 on the power play (13.3 per cent) in their four game opening round playoff loss to the Regina Pat Canadians.
"I really think it hurt us in the playoffs, but we didn't have (Shane) Collins either," said Wareham. "Not to take anything away our other guys back (on defence), but after Collins and (Dawson) Davidson, there's not a lot of offence back there. Losing him really hurt us."
Despite the time they put into it Wareham doesn't want his players too tight or over-thinking what they're doing. He is hoping to get the message across that the power play is important without harping on it constantly.
"We don't want to put too much stock in it because we don't want to get the guys frustrated either," said Wareham. "They have realize that if you can get one or two — depending on how the game is being called — that can go a long to getting you to the playoff round on Saturday."
Wareham also made use of some of their guest players as the Generals special teams got to work against junior players Rhett Gardner, Ben Duperreault and Dylan McIntosh.
"We moved them up to put a little bit more pressure on our penalty kill," said Wareham.
The Generals held six scrimmages over the past three weeks to try to up the tempo during their six-week break between games. The play has slipped and Wareham knows his players are itching for real action.
"They're getting sick of it. They're sick of practicing. They're doing their best, to be fair to them. I can't harp on them too much because it's getting old," said Wareham.
The Generals are getting away from the ice for the weekend. They will practice Friday before doing some team building. They will return to practice Tuesday in Caronport as Mosaic Place prepares to host Avenged Sevenfold and then is prepared for the Telus Cup tournament.