The Cannex Cochrane Generals came out flat but stepped up their play in the second and third to chill the Wetaskiwin Icemen, 9-3, in their first preseason game on Sept. 2.

It was a chance to see where the chemistry lies in the Gens roster and to help make decisions on who will make the final roster.

gens 1Diago Coelho (#14) congratulates Tristan Ripplinger on a goal in the third.

Head coach and GM Kurtis Jones says it wasn't until the second the Gens came to life. 

"I wasn't really happy with the first, but it was our guys' first game, and a lot of them hadn't played together and needed to get their feet going. But then we came out and played a solid second and third period."

Six prospective Gens were attending junior 'A' tryout camps and weren't dressed for the game, so it didn't necessarily provide a full taste of the Gens artillery this season. But those on the ice offered plenty of speed, a strong foundation of playmaking, and showed they could throw checks.

Jones says there was a good reason why they started their season earlier than usual.

Gens 2Blueliner Lane Martin (#4) brings the puck out of the Gens zone.

"We're already three, four weeks in and guys are ready," says Jones. "That was my plan because I thought we weren't prepared last year, and I wanted to change up some things."

There was good reason to look outside of the Heritage Junior Hockey League for preseason action. The team doesn't want to establish any rivalries before the regular season gets underway. Last season, the Gens and Okotoks Bisons got off on the wrong foot.

 The Gens head to Wetaskiwin on Sept. 9 to wrap up their preseason. Their regular season opens on Sept. 22 in Didsbury against the Mountainview Colts. They head to Red Deer the next day to take on the Vipers.

"Hopefully, we're ready to go," he says. "I mean, we don't know other teams right now, but Red Deer can be strong, and I think we played Sylvan Lake right off the hop, too."

In fact, he anticipates the competition to be stepped up across the entire HJHL.

"I think the league's going to change a lot this year in the sense of the competitive level. I think every team will be pretty even. It's going on the up and up."

gens 3Gen James Quaife squeezes between two Icemen to bring the action into the Icemen's zone.

Their home opener is on Sept. 20 against the Airdrie Techmation Thunder, whom he also expects to ice a solid team.

The Icemen were the first team the Gens have played at the SLS Centre since announcing their return to Totem One for the 2023-24 season. They've played at the Cochrane Arena since the 2020-21 season.

gens 3Braydon Yonin saw action between the pipes, along with Gens veteran Jordan McGinnis. The Icemen had 25 shots on net to the Gens 

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