They may have fallen short in the end, but the Moose Jaw Generals were able to take a lot out of their trip to the 37th annual Richmond International Midget Tournament last week.
After struggling through the first half of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League season, the Generals put together a great run in Richmond, finishing second with a 1-0 overtime loss to the Hungarian under-16 team in the final on Sunday.
“We’re very happy, we put together some 60-minute efforts and some consistency throughout the week, strung some good games together, so we’re very proud of the guys, they really stepped their game up,” said Head Coach Ray Wareham following the close of the tournament.
The Generals went into the Christmas break with the second-worst record in the SMAAAHL, posting a 6-17-2-3 mark that included them playing in 17 one-goal games.
Over the course of the week in Richmond, the Generals came away with a 2-2-2 record with their only two losses coming against Team Hungary.
“We’ve been inconsistent all throughout the first half, we’d play a good 40 minutes but have a bad first period and be chasing the game, and this week, our guys showed that they can put together 60-minute efforts,” said Wareham.
Moose Jaw was in every game of the tournament, opening with a 3-1 loss to Hungary, which included an empty net goal. They followed that up with back-to-back 2-2 ties against Everett and Yale Academy.
Needing a win against Mission, AZ to advance into the playoff round, the Generals responded with a 9-1 win. They rode that momentum to a 4-2 win over Everett in a semifinal rematch.
The final was a back-and-forth game, but Wareham said that they ran into a hot goaltender and weren’t able to capitalize on some early chances.
“The final was probably our best game of the year,” he said. “In the first period, we jumped all over them and out-shot them 15-2, but their kid was really good in net and we couldn’t get that one. The second and third periods were back-and-forth and unfortunately in overtime, they got a bounce and it ended up in the back of the net.”
The Generals feature 13 players in the 15-year-old age group and Wareham said they gained some valuable experience playing in tight games throughout the tournament.
“We saw some guys that earlier in the year would have panicked in those situations, they didn’t panic, they hung onto the puck and tried to make plays and it was good,” said Wareham. “Hopefully we’re better off for it in the second half.
“We’re still in the playoff race, we’re 5-6 points out, we have a lot of home games, so it isn’t insurmountable and hopefully we can put similar efforts together in the second half and get into the playoffs.”
The Generals will return to league play coming up this weekend when they host the Tisdale Trojans at Mosaic Place on Saturday and Sunday. Puck drops at 1:30 p.m. both days.