There will be an atmosphere of nostalgia at the Cochrane Generals' last regular-season game of the 2022-23 season.
The local junior B team is hosting its inaugural alumni night on Feb. 4, when the visiting Okotoks Carstar Bisons come to the Cochrane Arena to take on the Gens.
As part of their celebration of past players, the Generals will be honouring former members of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) franchise, dating back to the Generals' first year of operation in 1984.
Nick Maclure, the Generals' social media coordinator, said the motivation to host an alumni celebration event was spurred by an inquisitive fan, who asked earlier this season why the team hadn't held such an initiative before.
“Our team has so much history, but no one in town knows much about it,” he said.
“The goal of this night is to reconnect some alumni who probably haven’t seen each other for many years. We want to show their accomplishments and acknowledge them.”
After an initial post on the Generals' social media accounts that sought to get a hold of the junior B organization's past players, Maclure said word about the upcoming alumni night started to spread. He even created a Generals alumni Facebook group for former players to join.
Maclure said as of Jan. 23, at least 23 alumni had RSVP'd their attendance. He noted that includes 10 players from the original Generals' roster back in 1984.
As part of the event, Maclure said former Generals players will get complimentary admission, as well as a free beer and food ticket.
The game will also include a brief pre-game ceremony to recognize past Generals' accomplishments.
Team president Rick Richards said hosting an alumni night is not just a great reunion for former players, but also a neat experience for long-time fans of the team.
“It sounds like [our alumni] are very excited about seeing each other,” Richards said. “Some haven’t seen each other for a long time, and some just want to relive the old glory days and tell those stories. I’m sure the stories are bigger and brighter than the actual reality, but that’s normal when a bunch of guys get together.”
Richards added this type of initiative is also a way of building more of a sense of community within the Generals organization.
“Some fans have followed the team for quite some time, and they can see guys they maybe used to watch 20 years ago,” he said.
Adding to the intrigue of the occasion is the fact the Gens' Feb. 4 opponent will be a bitter regional rival. The game will mark the fourth time the Cochranites have faced the Okotoks Bisons this campaign, in a battle between the two teams that have led the north division standings for most of the HJHL's 2022-23 season. In their three previous encounters this season, the division-leading Bisons have won twice, while the Generals were victorious in the other meeting.
As of writing, Maclure said the Generals are still trying to find more alumni, and that any past players are encouraged to reach out to the team's staff.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a great night and we’ll get more people signed up,” Maclure said.
Puck-drop for the game is at 7:30 p.m. at the Cochrane Arena. There will be a pre-game social event for the alumni to catch up and trade stories starting at 6 p.m.