Generals-Blazers-Nov17Grant Naherniak sprawls out to make a save against the Saskatoon Blazers this season.

Playoff hockey starts on Thursday night for the Moose Jaw Generals.

The fourth place Generals host the first place Notre Dame Argos on Thursday night at Mosaic Place.  That game kicks off a five games in nine days stretch against the top-three teams in the Sask Midget AAA Hockey League.

Moose Jaw heads into the game against the Argos two points out of third place and eight points back of first place with games in hand on all three teams that they’re chasing.

So needless to say, these next nine days could decide their fate heading into the actual playoffs.

“We just want to win (Thursday night),” said Shane Collins, a second-year defenceman with the Generals.  “We’re going to have to play our best and play to our structure and our game, and hopefully come out on top and move up the standings.”

The team realizes what’s at stake for them over the next week and a half.  Right now they’re sitting in a home playoff spot for the first round of the playoffs, but they want more.

“We’re pretty determined to win these ones,” said Collins.  “These next five games are against top teams, if we can win these we should be moving right up in the standings and have a good chance at getting first or second place.”

The games won’t be easy though.  In two meetings this season against the Argos, the Generals have been blown out once and battled their way to a tie in the other.

“It’s been a tough go against the Argos so far this year, but we’re feeling pretty confident and we’ll bring the best to the table,” said goalie Grant Naherniak, who has a 12-7-3 record in 22 appearances this season.

“We’re starting to get some playoff hockey into us, like that Tisdale game we had and Prince Albert the other night was really playoff hockey,” added Naherniak.  “We’re at the last 11 games and we’ve really got to ante up the energy with what we’ve got to come.”

The Generals are riding a three-game winning streak coming into the game, while the Argos have won their last five.

“They’re a real skilled team, they can move the puck quickly and if you break down in your structure and your fore check, they’ll just pick you apart and put the puck in your net,” said Collins.

“If we come out flat, we’ll just get rolled over, but if we come out with good intensity, we should have a battle and hopefully come out on top.”

The Generals and Argos square off at 7:00pm on Thursday night.  Moose Jaw will be at home this weekend as well to host the second place Battleford Stars on Saturday and Sunday.  After that, it’s another meeting with the Argos next Thursday followed by a trip to Prince Albert next weekend.

“We really want that home ice and we really want to get to that first place, so we know as a team that we’ve got to play these teams ahead of us and we’ve got to beat them if we really want to compete in playoffs this year,” stated Naherniak. 

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