Rykr Cole's late goal gives Generals opening-game win
If the Moose Jaw Generals are going to be successful when they host the Telus Cup in April they will have to deal with pressure and adversity.
Moose Jaw Generals
So far, they’re passing their practice exam at the Mac’s midget hockey tournament.
“We challenged our guys and tried to put pressure on them. We told them that this was our mini-Telus Cup. We wanted to put as much pressure on them as we could to see how they handled it,” said Generals head coach Ray Wareham.
Thursday the Generals handled the pressure just fine. Rykr Cole scored with 3:42 left in the third period to give the Generals a 2-1 win over the Leduc Oil Kings as they opened the tournament in Calgary.
The teams were tied 1-1 headed into the third period before the Generals prevailed.
“We actually scored a couple of minutes into the third period and they counted the goal and then the referee decided that maybe the net was off and they took it away from us. Something like that could’ve really deflated them, but they didn’t let it bother them,” said Wareham.
The Mac’s is hardly the be-all or end-all of the season, but there is an intensity and an atmosphere you don’t find many other places until the post-season. Wareham hopes the unforgiving tournament will help prepare them for the ‘must-win’ games that are coming.
“You have to be able to play with pressure and thrive under it,” he said. “The hard thing about this tournament is that if you lose one game you could be out. Three-and-one doesn’t guarantee you anything.”
The Leduc Oil Kings (14-7-4) were third in the northern half of the Alberta midget AAA league and offered a solid test in the opening game.
“They’re a pretty good team and it was a good game,” said Wareham.
“Both teams at times looked like they were playing their first game in awhile. I thought we got better as the game went on.”
Riley Cannon opened the scoring the for the Generals 2:29 into the first period on the power play before the Oil Kings tied the score in the second period thanks to a Gage Joel power play goal.
Grant Naherniak was outstanding in goal for the Generals and made 36 saves in the win.
“Grant had arguably his best game of the year for us,” said Wareham.
“We had some chances that we couldn’t bury and then we made a tic-tac-toe passing play out of our own zone to spring Rykr on a breakaway.”
The Generals also got solid performances from affiliates Brett Reidy and Regan Seiferling in the win.
Wareham said his team is excited after their opening game win.
“They should be excited, they played well,” he said. “You can see the confidence in our guys growing.”
They face a huge test Friday when they play the Swiss under-17 national team. Finland’s under-17s crushed the Battlefords Stars 9-1 in their opening game. Battlefords is ahead of the Generals in the Sask. Midget AAA Hockey League standings.
The Swiss opened the tournament Thursday night with an 8-2 win over a struggling Calgary Northstars team.
Even if the Swiss look daunting on paper, the Generals are embracing the challenge.
“Our guys are excited. They’re treating it like a little Team Canada versus the Swiss,” said Wareham.