Cochrane General fans are being treated to a rare three-game homestand this weekend, kicking off Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Medicine Hat Cubs.
With playoffs set to begin in mid-February, the Cochrane Generals remain second in the south division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League and need to keep adding to the win column to keep it that way.
It's the Cubs that are pawing at the Gens for second place in the south. Medicine Hat has two games in hand on Cochrane and is just two points back.
Finishing second in the regular season comes with the bonus of a first-round playoff bye to rest up and heal. That might be exactly what the doctor orders with the Gens finishing their season up with two games against the Okotoks Bisons and one against the Coaldale Copperheads, both heavy-hitting teams.
The Gens have won two of their three meetings with the Cubs this season, and a win tonight would give them the edge should the teams be tied at the end of the regular season.
"Their systems are very good and they're a lot like us," says Gens head coach Kurtis Jones. "It's not a highly physical hockey game, it's a finesse game when you play the Cubs. I think their offensive side is fairly strong, so we've just got to be prepared.
"But it's good to be challenged like that every day to hold second, and our guys understand that."
The Okotoks Bisons have a firm grip on first in the south (and the league) with 24 wins and just two losses, one of them against the Gens.
Saturday night, the High River Flyers are in town for a 7:30 p.m. game. The Three Hills Thrashers are here Sunday for a 3 p.m. game.
While the Gens have perfect records against both the Flyers and Thrashers this season, Jones refuses to take them lightly. He points to the last time the Gens faced the Thrashers.
"We were down three goals and we ended up winning 7-6. There's no weak team in our league, and when we play the north teams, it's crucial we get our two points out of them."
Gens need to cut two players by Jan. 10
The Gens are required to shave two players by Jan 10 to produce a final roster of 23 players. They currently carry 25.
"It's quite hard for the coaching staff to make these decisions because every kid needs to be there," says Jones. "But as per Hockey Canada/Hockey Alberta rules, we need to be down to a 23-man roster."
He says they are in the process of moving a player who has requested to be released to a B.C. club.