The Cochrane Generals came out flat in the opening stanzas but by the end caught on fire to secure a 5-1 win against the Ponoka Stampeders last night at the Cochrane Arena.
The Gens scored four unanswered goals in the final 14 minutes of the game to clinch their eighth straight wins and remain the hottest team in the south division.
Gens Head Coach Travis McMillan, though, believes the emphasis should be on key wins against the Coaldale Copperheads and Okotoks Bisons last week that made the statement the Gens want to finish second to secure a bye from the first round of playoffs.
That means taking nothing for granted and playing hard no matter who they’re playing.
“Having the foot on the gas for a full 60 minutes is something we’ve been trying to maintain and we’re starting to get more consistent in keeping leads and getting the two or three goals we need.
“I was really happy to see the guys come together in the third period. That’s exactly what we needed to do.”
The Stamps took a 1-0 lead at 16:19 of the first but that was all the scoring punch they had. Gens Knute Loe goalie was perfect on the other 20 shots.
Ross River broke the tied six minutes into the third period with his second goal of the night. After a pair of goals by Ben Davison, the Stampeders were visibly deflated. Scott Shugg tapped one in with a few minutes remaining to put the icing on the cake.
Brandon Aab and Jordan Marks had a pair of assists while other helpers went to Chris Sambrook, Kennan McElroy, Braden Bain, Taylor Girard, Ryan Davis and Takuro Okada.
McMillan believes the pieces are falling into place and now it’s a matter of keeping the ship on course.
“It’s nice to have a streak going into playoffs just because you have everything set and everything is moving in the right direction. Now we’ll pick apart the little things to make sure we continue to have success.”
The Bisons remain three points ahead after their 6-5 win over the Strathmore Wheatland Kings last night. The Gens have a game in hand but will be facing the south division leading Copperheads two more times before the end of the regular season.
The Gens are on the road on Sunday to take on the Blackfalds Wranglers then head to Ponoka on Jan. 20.
Their next home game is Jan. 25 against the Strathmore Wheatland Kings.
Roster reduced by two
On Jan. 10, forward Caylin Wildman, 20, and defenceman Justin Whetstone, 18, were cut to meet HJHL roster requirements. The Gens will be carrying 20 skaters and three goalies plus affiliates for the final nine games of the regular season.
McMillan says they are both good players but push come to shove he decided to stick with six defencemen and says he likes chemistry they have with their forward lines and couldn’t find a spot for Wildman.
Last night, affiliate Jonah Desrosiers was called up for the game to fill out the defence. Both Zach and Carter Cugnet didn’t dress due to family matters and Jordan Fisher and Harry Osler are nursing injuries and McMillan says they are day-to-day.