Ups, downs and curveballs could not keep the Cochrane Generals down this year and club president Rick Richards said he hopes the junior B hockey team can build on this year’s momentum to achieve even more next season.
“It was a great run,” said Richards of the 2021-22 season.
The Gens had to adapt when they were switched out of the southern division to the northern division when two teams from the north dropped out of the season. They went on to win the northern division and play in the league finals against Okotoks.
The upcoming season will be even better, Richards said.
“Our main goal is to bring home the cup next year,” he said.
The Generals reached new heights in 2022, coming home second in the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) and followed that up by earning silver for the first time at the Alberta Junior B Provincials.
Richards said the team had to overcome a lot through the season, but the players never gave up.
“It was inspiring to watch the boys just play at their very best for quite a long time and to win the personal battles that they had to overcome,” he said.
Players were in and out of the line-up over the season, he said, but always showed up when they were given the call.
During the provincial playoffs, some players were also in the middle of university exams. Additionally, when the team had to be evacuated from their hotel in Wainwright, the players were resilient and didn’t let it affect them or their game, he said.
Four players will age out of the team next year, including goalie Davyn Larocke, who finished the season with a .91 save percentage – the fourth best in the HJHL.
“The coaches know that we've got some holes to fill,” Richards said.
Also aging out are defensemen Jordan Marks and Ryan Davis.
“They are our strength on the back end in the defensive area,” he said. “So, we need to find some great defensemen to fill their holes.”
Assistant captain Shane Benoit is also not returning. Richards said Benoit proved himself in his last year of junior eligibility.
“The last two years that he was with the team he was in and out of the lineup and he worked very hard at practice practices on his own. And this year, he not only cracked the line-up but then he showed the coaches he was that much better at tryouts that they made him an assistant captain. Their judgment, making him assistant captain really paid off, because he was a fabulous.”
Returning is team captain Patrick Forde, who led the league in goals and points in both the regular season and playoffs.
“I don't know where you can find a player who could give you a better leadership in our league, on and off the ice, he's a fabulous person,” Richards said.
The Generals will be holding their spring camp soon and will solidify the team for next season in September, said Richards.