Nationals sit in first place with back-to-back wins
Taking stupid penalties results in easy goals.
© Matthew Gourlie
Moose Jaw Generals defenceman Shane Collins, right, goes down to block a shot while Adam DeLuca for the Toronto Young Nationals tries to screen Generals goalie Grant Naherniak during first period action Wednesday night at the Telus Cup midget AAA national hockey championship in Moose Jaw. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
The Moose Jaw Generals found that out the hard way when they lost 4-2 to the Toronto Young Nationals on day three of the Telus Cup at Mosaic Place.
“You come out and get a lead and you take a useless penalty and instead of trying to settle into that lead and build off the momentum, you go on the penalty kill and they get one. All of the sudden, you are chasing,” stated Ray Wareham, head coach of the Moose Jaw Generals. “It was very undisciplined. The first two penalties we took were awful and you aren’t going to win when you take those penalties.”
The Nationals benefited from six power play opportunities, cashing in on four of them.
For the second game in a row, the Generals came out scoring early and quick, but couldn’t maintain the energy and allowed their emotions to get the best of them.
“Our issue all year has been our emotions and letting things affect us that we have no control over,” said Wareham. “We didn’t do a good job of controlling our emotions.”
Dawson Davidson sniped a wrist shot from the face off dot past Izzy Benigno under three minutes into the game.
“Even if we are down a goal, we have that mentality that there is nothing wrong with the game … we just have to get back in the game,” said Marco Bozzo from Toronto. “That’s what we did.”
However, by midway through the first period, the Generals got into penalty trouble and the Nationals capitalized.
Bozzo scored two power play markers before the first frame was over and went into the second period with a lead.
“My line mates set me up, with one being a tip-in,” said Bozzo. “I feel like everyone contributes to the team and everyone just piles on (with) their perseverance.”
By the end of the first, the Generals looked tired and lacked energy, although they did finish with more shots on net.
They couldn’t maintain anything offensively and by the second period, with one second remaining on the power play, Jeremy Pullara beat Grant Naherniak five-hole to score the Nationals’ third goal of the game.
Early in the third, Davidson got the Generals within one goal with a point shot.
However, another penalty allowed Bozzo to get the hat trick with 15 seconds remaining and put the Nationals into first place in the standings.
“We can’t let our guard down,” said Bozzo. “With this win, we are feeling pretty good about the rest of the week and solidify our spot for the weekend. We feel good about this win.”
Regan Nagy was physical throughout the game, but took three minor penalties and the Nationals capitalized on two of those infractions. He plays on the edge, but crossed the line.
“We have talked to him ... he is going to have to control his emotions,” said Wareham. “He is an emotional guy, he plays with a lot of passion, heart and desire, but he has to be able to channel it the right way. I think it slipped a little on him tonight, but they are kids and they are playing for a national championship and playing their hearts out.”
Nagy understands how close the games are and understands what role he needs to play in order for him and the Generals to be successful. He doesn’t want to change the way he plays, but knows he has to make some adjustments.
“I like to play physical, so it is hard to stay on the good side of things,” he said. “I will have to change it the next couple of games … I can’t take any penalties.”
The win puts the Nationals in first spot in the standings and a must-win for the Generals on Thursday against rivals Prince Albert Mintos.
“It is huge,” said Wareham. “We have to win out. We think we have to win out. It is a big game. We need to bring our A-game. We know them and they get under our skin. Emotions are going to be huge. We are expecting a big crowd.”
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