Generals gear up for looming playoffs
Thursday, Feb 01, 2018 06:00 am
The Southern Division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) continues to be a battle for the top seed in the division, which sees the Cochrane Generals constantly shuffling from first to third place all while in the middle of a five game win streak.
The 20-11-1 Generals continued their strong play in the month of January with a pair of wins over southern teams, keeping them in the hunt for first place. But the club still finds itself three points back of both the Coaldale Copperheads and Okotoks Bisons for first and second in the south.
On Jan. 26, Cochrane travelled to High River to face the Flyers, a team trying to frantically catch the Gens for their spot in the standings. Cochrane dominated the game from start to finish, which began with Talus Hume sniping his 25th goal of the season within the first three minutes of the game, which was shortly followed up by a shorthanded goal from Braden Bain to give the Generals an early 2-0 lead after one period of play. Hume once again showed his scoring prowess jumping on a loose puck 15 seconds into the second period and fired it past the Flyers goaltender to stretch Cochrane’s lead out to 3-0. Braden Bain got his second of the game just past the midway point of the third to give the game its final score of 4-0 in favour of the visitors.
Hume and Bain led the way offensively for Cochrane with both potting a pair of goals in the victory. Will Gretton, Zach Cugnet, Colton Wong and Taylor Girard also finished with points and Knute Loe was perfect in net stopping all 29 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.
The following night, Cochrane returned home to face the last place Strathmore Wheatland Kings. The Generals put together consecutive dominating performances, which saw them jump out to a 2-0 lead less then three minutes into the game and a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period. The final score of the game was 9-3 in favour of Cochrane in a game that was never really close. Talus Hume and Slater Ransom continue to put fear into opposing team’s goaltenders, with both players recording hat tricks on the evening. Hume scored his 27th, 28th and 29th goals on the season and Ransom put away his 26th, 27th and 28th goals, with the duo combining for 10 points in the game. Harry Osler, River Ross and Brandon Aab also scored for the Generals while Colton Wong finished with three assists. Cochrane’s power play was also deadly, going 75 per cent, scoring on three of their four chances.
Hume and Ransom currently sit second and fourth in the HJHL’s scoring race with 65 and 63 points respectively, with Hume playing in 32 games and Ransom in 29. Generals captain Austin Keller sits third on the team and second among the league’s defencemen with 45 points on the year.
Goaltender Knute Loe once again got the call and was solid when tested, making 23 saves on 26 shots. Loe has been on quite the run for the Generals lately, making starts in all five of his teams most recent win streak. In those five games, Loe has gone 5-0 with a 1.20 goals-against-average and two shutouts. The young net minder says he’s adjusted well to his new teammates and coaches.
“Our leadership from the coaches and veterans has really helped me out. I feel good right now but I’m still pushing to get better every day,” Loe said.
“Hopefully, we can keep this win streak rolling all the way through playoffs. I just hope I can help the team be part of that success.”
Over the duration of the win streak, Cochrane has scored nearly six goals per game. Loe mentioned that it makes his job much easier when the team is scoring at such a high rate.
“All of the guys have been playing really well lately, so as a goalie it makes my job a lot easier,” Loe said.
“If I make a mistake the rest of the team has my back so in games everyone is a lot calmer because we know that we can trust one another.”
The highflying Generals attack will be back in action on Feb. 3 and 4 when they have a pair of home games against High River and the Medicine Hat Cubs. Cochrane will wrap up the regular season portion of the season with a couple of big road games against the Wheatland Kings and the Cubs.