With a playoff spot out of the picture for this season and much of this year’s squad returning next season, the Moose Jaw Generals are focused on building their game for next year right now.
That’s why despite dropping both games to the Regina Pat Canadians over the weekend — falling 2-0 on Saturday in Regina and 3-1 on Sunday at Mosaic Place — the Generals are coming away pleased with their game.
“I thought we were real good,” said Head Coach Ray Wareham. “They’re obviously a little more skilled than we are and we’re young, but we had a game plan going into the weekend and they executed it very well.”
The Generals have played the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top-two teams, and arguably two of the top teams in Canada, over their past two games and they’ve giving them all that they could handle in all three games.
On Saturday, Regina scored early in the second period and added an empty netter in the final minute for the win, while in Sunday’s game, a couple of defensive lapses was all that separated the two teams.
“Definitely the effort is there and you can tell that we’ve made huge, huge strides this season,” said Wareham. “We’re not losing anybody and we’re hoping that (what they’re going through now) pays off next year. As hard as this is, we’ve got to stay positive and keep working because they are looking good.”
Sunday’s loss was the 14th straight for the Generals, who now sit at 6-25-2-3 on the year.
With an eye on next year, Wareham said that they’ve been trying players in different roles and really looking to solidify the team heading into the offseason.
“We’ve really talked about patience in our own end, if they cycle the puck, let them as long as they’re not getting quality shots and I thought (Saturday) we did a fantastic job of limiting their quality chances,” said Wareham.
“I really like the development of our guys and I’m really encouraged and if we can play like this for the last 7-8 games, I’m real encouraged for next year.”
Wareham added that he’s challenged the players to continue to push through right to the end of the season.
“We’re experimenting on things, we tried five forwards on the power play this weekend and in fairness to those guys, we haven’t even practiced that yet,” he said. “There’s lots of positives, there’s still things we need to work on, but it’s encouraging.”
17-year-old goalie Jake Davidson made 24 saves in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Pat Canadians.
On Sunday, Jake Palmer scored Moose Jaw’s lone goal, which tied the game up at 1-1 for 33 seconds in the first period. Regina answered back right after Palmer’s goal to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission and Moose Jaw couldn’t get any closer.
15-year-old goalie Ethan Hein turned away 32-of-35 shots in the loss.
The Generals are back on home ice on Thursday to host the Beardy’s Blackhawks. Puck drops at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Place.