Generals open with tie

Katie Brickman
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Davidson, Ritcey named players of game

All it took was 30 shots on net.

Rykr Cole from the Moose Jaw Generals, left, tries to drive past Halifax McDonald's captain Ryan MacEachen during opening day action at the Telus Cup midget AAA national hockey championships at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie

The Moose Jaw Generals finally solved the wall that was Justin Ritcey on shot 30 midway through the third period on Monday evening.

Early on, it looked like the 45-day wait between game action was going to sink the Generals. However, back-to-back goals about a minute apart in the final period put a point in the standings as they skated to a 2-2 draw with the Halifax McDonald’s.

“At the start, the pucks weren’t really bouncing our way. We had the shots, but the pucks just weren’t going in,” said Dawson Davidson of the Generals. “We knew we were playing with them and we knew that we had the intensity and we were there with them. We knew if we kept working, it would go our way.”

It finally went there way as four players crashed into each other at centre ice and Davidson skated up the wing alone on a breakaway and beat Ritcey with a pretty wrist shot under the glove.

“It could have shut down and we could have threw in the towel, but I thought the guys really came together as a team and just focused on the goal here,” said Davidson.

Just over a minute later, Ben Verrall brought the Mosaic Place crowd back to their feet with a slap shot from the face-off dot.

“It was more than we usually get, so it was nice to get some reaction there, but it is just another game for us,” said Davidson.

Generals’ goaltender, Grant Naherniak wasn’t tested until five minutes into the game, where he made a big toe save.

Even though he made the initial save, his teammates couldn’t clear the puck in front of him and Jordan Yochoff scored the opening goal.

The Generals found their legs midway through the first period and put pressure on the Macs and Ritcey, but he stood tall throughout the game, stopping 38 shots.

“I thought we were a little rusty, but I thought it was a real solid effort for 60 minutes, considering the situation we were in … couldn’t ask for any more from the kids, other than a little bit of finish,” said Ray Wareham, head coach of the Generals. “Have to give their kid credit, he was fantastic.”

Luc Poirier added to the Macs lead early in the second period, finishing a beautiful two-on-one play with Johnny Jones.

“We are happy with the point. Two would have been nice, but for some our guys, they just need to get used to the intensity and pace that some of these teams play at here. We are not used to that,” said Tim Boyce, head coach for the Macs. “It was a tough go and if it wasn’t for Justin, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about a tie.”

The Generals poured on the shots and pressure at points throughout the game, but it was obvious that the long delay had an effect on their play. The timing was off on their power play and for many of their star players, including Regan Nagy, Donovan Neuls and Rykr Cole missing the net and just the clutch instinct that saw them succeed during the regular Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League season.

“We are hopefully getting our legs under us,” said Wareham. “You could see the timing wasn’t there and we just didn’t pull the trigger quick enough, but it will come.”

However, as the game won on, the Generals appeared to find their confidence and groove as they poured on the shots and upped the tempo of the game.

“I think if we are going to compete with some of these teams, we have to move our feet more,” said Boyce. “We stood around and watched when the Generals had the puck on their stick.”

The Generals dominated the third period, as the Macs only registered one shot on Naherniak. The message was clear after the game from Boyce”

“Now we know what to expect from the competition … that was the message,” said Boyce. “We have to be better and can’t expect to play in our end for 40 minutes and be successful.”

The Generals will play the Okanagan Rockets (7:30 p.m., Mosaic Place) tonight.

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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