The Cochrane Generals had a lot to celebrate this weekend between two victories, a hat trick, a shut out and a milestone for one player.
In back-to-back home games starting with the Airdrie Techmation Thunder Saturday night and followed by the Lamond Lakers Sunday afternoon, the Gens showed both teams why they are best in class in the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) north division with 4-2 and 11-0 victories.
"We needed to win these games to get closer to securing first spot in the north," said Generals assistant coach Erik Krigel. "We did a good job at it — it was a tough one against Airdrie, but we pulled it off."
"Lomond's a bit of a weaker team, but we still have to stick to our game plan to keep moving forward towards our goal."
Gens captain Patrick Forde scored a hat trick, plus one, during Sunday's match versus Lomond, and goalie Kaiden Wharton blocked all 13 shots on net for the shut out. The match also marked Gens defense Jordan Marks' 100th point in his 100th game.
The feud between Cochrane and Airdrie's HJHL teams was alive and well in their match Saturday night in one of the Gens busier home games of late.
"These guys that have played hockey together and against each other for quite some time, so it's get spirited quite easily," said Krigel.
There are just four games left before playoffs begin and the Gens are currently ranked number one in the north. They are followed closely by the Sylvan Lake Wranglers and Red Deer Vipers with an even seven points for second.
The Cochrane team's last regular season games are critical to gaining home ice advantage during playoff season. Two more victories are needed to secure it.
"A team that goes into the playoffs on a high note, is a team that's successful, so we're trying to keep the guys up and keep them focused going into it," Krigel said. "We want to go in winning every game between now and the end of the season."
Gaining home ice advantage means the Generals would host the majority of their playoff series in Cochrane and Krigel is hopeful that locals will show up to support the team, especially after what was a long stint of visiting games.
"We're back playing more games at home and would sure like to see Cochrane come out and support the team from here on out," he said.
The Gens face off against the Thunder, who were the last to win the league and provincial championships in 2019, in an away game Jan. 28, then again at home Jan. 29.
Their final two games will be away in Red Deer Feb. 5, and finally, at home against the Coaldale Copperheads Feb. 6 at the Cochrane Arena.