The Cochrane Generals season came to a screeching halt after bowing out to the Okotoks Bisons three games to none in the second round of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) best-of-five-series.
The series was a hard-fought battle filled with close games, which surprised nobody as Okotoks only finished one point ahead of Cochrane in the standings and the teams split their four meetings throughout the regular season.
The Generals dropped Game 1 to the Bisons 6-3 on Feb. 23, despite starting strong when Braden Bain kicked off the scoring with an unassisted goal at the 13:11 mark of the first period. Okotoks would tie the game just three minutes later, but that was quickly followed up by a second goal from Bain on a Cochrane power play. Once again, the Bisons were able to find the equalizer to knot the game at two after one period of play. Okotoks scored the lone goal in the second and Harry Osler later tied the game at three, but the Bisons would go on to tally three consecutive goals to notch the victory at 6-3.
Game 2 went back to Cochrane and was a very close back-and-forth affair. Slater Ransom and Talus Hume scored early in the first period to give the Gens a 2-0 advantage. But the lead was short-lived. Okotoks responded quickly in the second with a pair of their own goals to equalize the score. Cochrane looked to have an advantage midway through the final period when Jarod Domingo took a feed from Walid Hassin and beat the Bisons goaltender to make it 3-2, but the Bisons would quickly tie the game and then added a power play goal to win the game with less than five minutes to go in the contest.
Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, the Generals threw everything they had at the Bisons goaltender in Game 3 on Feb. 25. It was a marathon game that needed overtime and really put each team’s stamina to the test, as it was the third game in as many nights. The game was scoreless through all three periods. Loe made 38 saves through regulation and stopped another flurry of shots in overtime before the game winner slipped by him at the 4:12 mark of overtime to give the Bisons a 1-0 victory and a series sweep.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the four graduates on the Generals roster, as the Game 3 loss signaled the end of their junior hockey careers. All four were members of the Generals team that went to back-to-back league finals as well as a provincial final, but had to settle for second place on all three occasions. Will Gretton, Austin Keller, Slater Ransom and Talus Hume will now move onto different aspects of their lives.
Hume, the team’s leading scorer with 33 goals and 38 assists (71 points) in 35 games said the team battled hard during the series with Okotoks, but were hit with injuries and that played a role in the series.
“It held us back from playing up to our standard,” Hume said.
“It’s always tough when you’re missing key players, but we gave it everything we had.”
Hume played five seasons in the Generals blue and red from 2013 until 2018, becoming one of their all-time leading scorers. The 21-year-old forward played in 182 career regular season games, scoring 118 goals and adding 134 assists for 252 points, while averaging 1.4 points-per-game. Hume said there are a lot of memories he’ll take away from his junior hockey career.
“Theres a lot of special memories that I’ll look back on. Most importantly, our silver medal finish at provincials last year and all the friendships I’ve made along the way,” Hume said reflecting on his junior career.
“Aside from that, I’ll always remember my first goal as an affiliated player, my 100th goal against Three Hills, the handful of overtime winners and my very last one on home ice against Okotoks. It all seems so bittersweet to think about now but I’ll never forget these moments for the rest of my life.”
“This specific ending to the season is like nothing else. Knowing you may never play another competitive game of hockey is hard, but it’s nice knowing that every guy on the team gave his absolute all for Austin (Keller), Talus (Hume), Slater (Ransom) and myself,” added defenceman Will Gretton on his two year experience with Cochrane.
“I saw a lot of heart these past two years on the ice, and I saw a lot of love in the room. I didn’t know a single guy on the team going in, and I have a lot of good friends coming out. Representing the Town of Cochrane meant a lot to me, and the teams atmosphere is what really pushed me to feel that pride in this town.”