The Moose Jaw Generals were able to put together a very strong first half to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, occupying one of the top-two spots for much of the season so far.
However, hidden in there was the fact that the team had really been playing at the top of their game every night.
That came to head over the holidays for the Generals as they struggled to a 1-3 record at the 2017 Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament in Calgary.
“It’s not something that just happened, it’s something that had been creeping into our game for the past month or so, we haven’t been playing very good hockey but fortunately in league play we were finding ways to win, and then you get into that tournament and play against top notch teams all the time and it didn’t go our way,” said head coach Ray Wareham.
“We’re a little disappointed with how it went, but we’ve got some work to do here in the second half, so hopefully we can come back re-energized.”
The Generals won their opening game, 3-2, over the Alaska Oilers, but they lost their next three, falling 6-2 to the Greater Vancouver Canadians; 3-1 to the Red Deer Chiefs; and 7-4 to the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League-leading Foothills Bisons.
Wareham said that he hopes the team received a wake-up call to how they have to play to be successful.
“We’re hoping that it sunk in that they need to play the game the right way and do things better than we’ve been doing,” said Wareham. “The message that we’ve been trying to get across hasn’t been working and then they found out the hard way unfortunately.
“We were in a pretty good pool, we got to see some of the best teams in Western Canada and the commitment level and effort that it’s going to take to beat those teams -- we’re not far off, if we’re playing our best hockey, we could have easily won that pool.”
There were some positives for the Generals during the tournament as Wareham pointed to the play of locals Reece Newkirk, Jeremy Bisson and Dylan Jones throughout the four games.
All three players recorded four points during the tournament, while Bisson and Jones each scored three goals to lead the way for the Generals.
“They were competing, playing hard and they were few of the guys that scored, so those three come to mind, they raised their game up, but unfortunately some of the other guys couldn’t get it done,” said Wareham.
“It was a good test for us, showed the guys that our message is correct that we were playing the game the wrong way and finding ways to win and that’s not going to do it when it counts, so hopefully now we can get to work.”
The Generals will return to league play coming up this weekend when they head to Northern Saskatchewan to face the Prince Albert Mintos on Saturday and the Beardy’s Blackhawks on Sunday.