Four all-stars, two prospects and the entire coaching staff of the Cochrane Generals will have a huge presence at the Heritage Junior Hockey League all-star and prospects games being hosted by Medicine Hat on Jan 5.
Over the weekend it was announced Gens head coach Kurtis Jones and his crew of Erik Krigel, Bryan Polymer, and Matt Greenham will be coaching the HJHL's south division's all-star team. Among its 20 players are Gens captain Brandon Aab, goalie Erik Garber, Taylor Girard, and Jordan Marks.
Jones says he was surprised by the selection of the Gens coaching staff to unleash the south team's talent. He has taken a glimpse at the roster but other than that will have few other details to offer until closer to the game.
Whatever those instructions are, assistant coach Krigel says the game is for the players to enjoy.
"I honestly think the south is stronger than the north, but it's an all-star game, it's for them," says Krigel. "So we're going to let them showcase their talents. We're not going to guide them too much. We're just going to look pretty up there."
It will be the second appearance in the HJHL all-star game by Aab and Marks. The play of Gerber has been highlighted by the HJHL in their stars of the month honours for the last two seasons. Taylor Girard is a talented two-way forward in his fourth season with the Gens.
The HJHL has only recently returned to hosting regular all-star games. The last two have been close, both coming down to a shoot out.
What is brand new to the HJHL is a prospects game.
Rookie Dean Olenyk will captain the south division's team while Patrick Forde will wear an 'A'.
Coach Jones says the two were named to the team's leadership because they had the top stats among the south's rookies.
Both Jones and Krigel agree the prospect game is a major step forward in promoting the young talent in the junior B league.
"It gives teams and schools a chance to look at them, and gives them another shot at going to a higher level," says Krigel.
Jones agrees, believing it will be the more exciting of the two games being played.
"That's our league," says Jones. "If we're a development league, and we try to make a development league, we want those prospects. We want the scouts, and we want everybody to come out and look at them."
"As a coach here, if I could have 25 players move on, I'd be happy," he continues.
Both Cochrane's Olenyk and Patrick Forde were both late cuts from AJHL teams before being recruited by the Gens. The two are not only the Gens' top rookies, they're leading the team in scoring.