In the first two games of the season, the engine was on but nobody was behind the wheel for the Gens. Now they're in the driver's seat, are finding their gears and have rebound with four straight wins. Along the way they extracted revenge against the Strathore Wheatland Kings, set a league record for shots on goal against the Three Hills Thrashers and climbed back to the top in what's a tight race for first in the south of the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
The Gens capped off a 13-0 Friday night win at home against the Thrashers with a 5-3 win against the Wheatland Kings, Oct. 8, that determined who would become the south division leader. The game was tied 1-1 after one with identical shots on net. They took a 4-2 lead after two before dominating the third by limiting the Wheatland Kings offence to three shots and gaining a little more assurance on a power play with six minutes remaining.
It's head coach Derek Donald's belief a team should improve with every practice and every game. While the Gens are playing better he sees the potential for more.
He says the only offensive opportunities of the Wheatland Kings were given to them by the Gens and its an area the club continues to strive to improve.
"Overall we played well. At times we had some lapses again. We continue to give up odd-man rushes when we shouldn't be."
He says the team is still too anxious offensively and sometimes they have three guys going to the net doing the same job. In some situations a fourth player pinches and it creates the odd man rushes that eventually pay off for their opponents.
"We want to do simple things but execute them every time and if we do that then we'll be fine and then we can build on the big stuff."
Assistant coach Travis McMillan said the team is starting to find its identity.
"The one thing I mentioned to the team after that lose in Strathmore (Sept. 23) is we need to find our identity and as soon as the guys sat down and looked it it they knew what they wanted to work on. The last three weekends, the boys are finding out what they're suppose to doing and what they're identity is."
There's some challenging match ups on the horizon, including a back-to-back in Coaldale.
"They always have good teams," says McMillan. But honestly, it's going to be a battle every night. After tonight we know what Strathmore's about and we know what Okotoks all about and we know what Airdrie's about now, so it's just a matter of rolling with it and figuring out how to counteract what they bring."
Coach Donald watched most of Sunday's game from the stands after being excused for questioning a bench minor before the halfway mark of the first. He was still scratching his head over the call after game, saying he has never seen a call like that nor seen an official get mad because he was asked for an explanation.
"To have the referee upset that he has to come over the explain why he gave us a bench minor in the first place to put us down 5-3 is a reasonable question as a coach," says Donald.
"I said, 'Unless you heard something from our bench differently than me there was nothing said that warrants a bench minor'."
"Anyway, I learned my lesson. With some of these guys you need to keep your mouth shut."
By the way, Donald's suspension wasn't the first served by a head coach this season. Bisons head coach Chris Beaton got those honours on Sept. 29.
Talus Hume scored a pair against Strathmore while Austin Keller, Harry Osler and Walid Hasser had singles. Taylor Girard had a pair of assists and Austin Keller and Scott Shugg had one each.
The Gens have a two-game home stand this weekend against the Blackfald Wranglers, Oct. 14, then the Red Deer Vipers, Oct. 15.
The competition is expected to be even stiffer at home against the Mountainview Colts on Oct. 20 before hitting the road to take on the Coaldale Copperheads the following night.