When you work hard good things happen. That was the case for the Moose Jaw Generals against the Notre Dame Argos on Thursday night at Mosaic Place.
Moose Jaw knocked off the Argos — the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top team — 5-3 on Thursday thanks to hard work and a never quit attitude.
“It was our biggest win of the year so far,” said forward Rykr Cole after scoring two goals in the final 3:33 of the game to give the Generals the two-goal win. “The boys played good right off the start and fortunately we were able to bang two goals in right at the end.”
Cole finished with a hat trick to lead the way for Moose Jaw, while Josh Miller had a goal and two points. The win gives the Generals a four-game winning streak and moves them six points back of the Argos for first with one game in hand.
“Our leaders are good and positive on the bench and not once did it feel like we were going to lose that hockey game, so that’s a good feeling,” stated head coach Ray Wareham.
Cole’s two goal outburst late in the game came as it looked like the game might be going to overtime or worse. The Argos had tied up the game at 3-3 on a power play goal from Nolan Reid midway through the frame.
The Generals killed off a slashing penalty to Josh Miller and he would in turn come up big for the team. Miller fed Cole on a beauty pass into the Notre Dame zone, springing him a partial breakaway that allowed him to beat goalie Dylan Ferguson between the legs for the eventual game winner.
“Rykr’s a gamer, he likes to win and when the game is on the line, he’s one of those guys that likes the puck so that was good to see,” said Wareham.
“That was just a heck of a play by Josh Miller on the nice pass and he’s been fantastic lately. You talk about work ethic, he’s just non-stop. That was a nice play by Miller and obviously Cole’s got some finish.”
The Generals weren’t out of the wood works with Cole’s go-ahead goal however as they found themselves shorthanded again moments later. Notre Dame pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4, but Moose Jaw got the kill and moments later Shane Collins hit Cole on a breakout pass and he beat everybody before sliding the puck in to seal the win.
“It was just icing on the cake and it’s just in the pass now and we need to look forward to the weekend,” said Cole, who now has 22 goals and 41 points on the year.
This win was a good way for Moose Jaw to start the toughest stretch of their season as they look to climb up the league standings over the final few weeks. Thursday night’s game was the first of five straight against the top three teams in the league for the fourth place Generals.
“Lots of ups and downs, faced some adversity in the game, had lots of leads and then in the third they got that power play one and our guys could have folded, but we answered back,” said Wareham. “Again a real gutsy effort.”
Moose Jaw got off to a strong start to the game with Miller opening the scoring on a scramble play in front of the net. Cole’s first of three in the game came on a blast from the point and that gave the Generals a two-goal lead.
Notre Dame would score late in the period, Elijah Francis at 1:27, to make it a one-goal game heading into the second.
Braydon Delorme had restored the two-goal lead for Moose Jaw late in the middle frame with a power play marker, but the Generals would take a slim 3-2 lead into the third period after giving up a goal to Notre Dame’s Keegan Milligan scored with just 2.8 seconds to go in the second period.
The Argos got the equalizer just before the midway point of the frame on a power play goal from Nolan Reid near the tail end of Caleb Riess’ tripping penalty.
The Generals kept battling despite blowing their lead and it eventually paid off as Cole completed the hat trick in the final four minutes.
Grant Naherniak made 23 saves —13 of them coming in the third period —in the win. Moose Jaw held the Argos to just 12 shots through the first two periods, while throwing 24 thru two, and 29 in total, on Ferguson.
It doesn’t get much easier for the Generals this weekend as they’ll host the Battleford Stars at Mosaic Place on Saturday (7:00pm) and Sunday (1:30pm).