Duel in the creases

Katie Brickman
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Naherniak and Entz challenge and push each other

A hot goaltender can steal a game and possibly the national championship.

The Moose Jaw Generals are hoping that all cylinders are running smoothly by the time the other top teams in the country get here for the Telus Cup, but they know they need to be strong from the net out.

“They are going to have to be our wall back there. Goaltending, especially in these one game showdowns, they can get you some momentum and if they get hot and ride it out for a week, we can go a long way on a hot goaltender,” stated Ray Wareham, head coach for the Generals. “They are going to be crucial to our success.”

Both Grant Naherniak and Colby Entz have played well this season for the Generals, earning 15 wins and 10 wins, respectively. They both had decent goals against average with 2.68 for Naherniak and 2.61 for Entz.

“They have been good all year for us, so we expect them to be ready to go,” said Wareham.

Naherniak just turned 18 years old and this is his final year with the Generals.

As much as he is trying to take the scrimmages the team has been scheduling like games, including another on Wednesday night at Mosaic Place, it has been difficult.

“It is kind of weird, but we just treat is like a normal league game,” said Naherniak. “As a goalie, you especially have to be in that right mind set all the time. Even though we are playing our team, we still have to imagine it is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. We just have to give it our all.”

The competitive nature of both Naherniak and Entz show through even in practice and being 200 feet away from each other on the ice.

“He makes a save and I make a save. We just compete. Even in games, when Colby makes a save, I expect to make a save,” said Naherniak. “We just try and match each other save for save.”

As much as these scrimmages will help the rest of the team get up to game speed, it also helps the goaltending duo work on angles and fighting through traffic in front of the net.

“There have been a lot of shots, which is good. A lot of in-front play too, which is good too. We need that traffic because in Telus, there is going to be a lot of it. We are going to need to be solid,” said Entz. “I just want to work on small things that sometimes you can’t work on in games.”

As much as the team is excited for the games to get started at Telus, the duo realize the extra pressure is on them to keep the Generals in games, especially early when the players in front of them try and get their feet under them.

“You have to have good goaltending to win. We have to carry this team through this tournament and we will have to play the best we have all year. We are going to have to make every save at Telus,” said Naherniak.

Wareham knows his goaltending is strong and doesn’t do much to push them as they push each other. He will be looking at the veteran Naherniak to be the starter in Game 1.

“He is hungry. He is ready and his is probably been the most excited and focused guy in the dressing room,” said Wareham. “There is no doubt that he is ready to go and Colby is ready if we call upon him.  We have all the confidence in the world in both of them, but they will have to be good.”

The Telus Cup runs from April 21 to 27 at Mosaic Place.

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman

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