With eight games left in the regular season, it's a tight race between the top four teams in the south division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) and right now anyone one of them can finish first.
That makes the Cochrane Generals game on the road this Friday against the Okotoks Bisons another important outing. It's the last time these two teams meet in the regular season and a win by the Gens gives them a better shot at top spot.
"Friday is huge," says Gens head coach Derek Donald.
"We're excited," says Donald. "We had a good team meeting and practice last night (Jan. 9). We know we can't rely on what happens with the other teams. We just have to go out there and win the rest of our games."
Currently, the Gens are sitting one point behind the second-place Bisons and just two points behind the division-leading High River Flyers. Only two points separate all three teams and Okotoks has the advantage with two games in hand on the Gens and three on the Flyers.
Another potential key game is their final matchup against the Flyers on the road on Jan. 26.
The Gens have proven they can beat any team in the division so expect a close horse race to the finish line.
Four of the Gens reminding eight games are at home in Totem One. Saturday, the Gens are here against the Strathmore Wheatland Kings.
Come cheer on the team in their push for first. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Gens Shine in All-Star Game
All three Generals in the HJHL all-star game played key roles in the south division's win.
The north took a commanding lead in the first two periods but the south stormed back to tie it up, 8-8, with 15 seconds remaining in play.
It was Talus Hume who scored the winner in a shootout that went to four players.
Hume and Slater Ransom both scored goals in regulation and Ransom added an assist.
Gens captain Austin Keller was one of the south division's alternate captains.
The league intends to make the all-star game an annual event, says Donald, and suspects it will be hosted by a north division team next year. As a lasting memento for the game, the players get to keep their all-star jersey and new ones will be issued each year.
Prior to the all-star game, the Gens split their weekend play. Friday, they went into the third with a 2-1 lead but the Coaldale Copperheads tied it up less than a minute into the period and went on to score three more unanswered goals to win 5-2. Goal five was an empty-netter.
Scott Shugg and Jordan Fisher scored for the Gens with helpers going to Ross River, Jarod Domingo, Braden Bain and Zach Cugnet.
That game also saw Austin Keller play his 200th game as a General. It was recognized by the team in a brief pregame announcement.
Saturday against the Medicine Hat Cubs was an all different story. The Gens shutout the Cubs, 8-0.
Knute Loeb earned his first shutout of the season between the pipes after facing 27 shots.
Most the action, though, was at the other end where the Gens riddled the Cubs goalie Josh Breznik with 45 shot.
Slater Ransom had a five-point night, including two goals, while linemate and Gens scoring leader Talus Hume had one goal and three assists. Harry Osler also scored a pair. Austin Keller, Jarod Domingo and Brandon Aab all added singles.
Keller, Aab, Braden Bain and Jordan Fisher each had two helpers and singles went to Will Gretton, Scott Shugg, and Carter Cugnet.