The Ponoka Stampeders' high point came 5:23 into last night's game when Connor MacLeod scored on their first shot on the Cochrane Generals net.
After that, the Gens took over, coasting to a 11-3 win. They outshot their struggling opponents, 48-19.
Gens captain Tristan Ripplinger had a four goal, six-point night to further solidify his position as the top goal scorer in the HJHL and saw him rise to second in overall point with four games remaining in the regular season.
Jordan Butz tallied a hat-trick and singles went to Evan Judge, Diago Coelho, Caden Stephenson, and Andrew Guss, who had a three-point night.
Knowing stiffer competition is ahead, Sniper Coelho, who also had a three-point night, says it's critical for the Gens to step up this weekend.
"This weekend is must-win for sure," says Coelho. "We're trying to start a win streak going here for the rest of the season so we can get that third seed."
If they are unable to gain any ground, they look to be facing the Okotoks Bisons, the HJHL's top team and defending champions, early in the playoffs.
Taking an early lead in games against the league's top teams hasn't been a problem. But they've been battling a costly third period sag.
"In practices, we've been focusing on working hard for those last 10 minutes to close out those games when we're ahead," say Coelho.
The High River Flyers and Medicine Hat Cubs each have plenty on the line when they roll into town Saturday and Sunday.
The Flyers have stepped up their game after a slow start to the season. They are battling to snatch the final playoff spot in the south division from the grips of the Strathmore Wheatland Kings. The Flyers lost 6-0 when they last faced the Gens but shocked Cochrane 10-3 in early January.
The Cubs are just two points ahead of the Gens with a game in hand. It's the team the Gens have the best chance to surpass in the standings, but that's easier said than done. These teams are equally matched, have been for the last few seasons.
So far, the Cubs have won two of their three meetings. When they last met, the Cubs scored four unanswered goals in the third for a 5-3 comeback win.
The puck drops at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday in Totem One. The Sunday matinee begins at 3 p.m.