Players with the Moose Jaw Generals, the host team for the Telus Cup — the national championship tournament for Midget AAA hockey — are anxious to prove they deserve a berth in the week-long series.
The Telus Cup is underway at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw where the local team, the Generals, has a spot in the line-up even though they did not win in their region.
Competing in the 2014 Telus Cup:
- Moose Jaw Generals (Host).
- Grenadiers de Châteauguay (Quebec*).
- Halifax McDonald's (Atlantic*).
- Okanagan Rockets (Pacific*).
- Prince Albert Mintos (West*).
- Toronto Young Nationals (Central*).
* Regional Champions
"We didn't want 48 days [off] that's for sure," Generals coach, Ray Wareham, said before the start of the tournament. "It's been a long time, the kids are itching to get at her."
The Generals were eliminated from the Saskatchewan midget AAA playoffs a month and a half ago. Prince Albert went on to advance to the national championship series.
Wareham said his team attracted a lot of attention during the season because it was hosting the tournament.
"Every team was gunning for us, trying to knock off the Telus Cup hosts," he said.
The players took it all in stride, however.
"On the positive side, we're all rested up," Rykr Cole said, adding the team has been practising hard in the two weeks leading up to Telus Cup.
Still, scrimmages are not quite the same as actual games.
"It doesn't really compare to a real game," Jared Legien said, adding the long wait has been "kind of nerve-wracking for us."
Prince Albert was the last Saskatchewan city to host the event, in 1999. The Mintos, too, went into the tournament following a six-week break. The Mintos didn't win that year, but they did go on to claim national titles in 2006 and 2007.
Results of Monday's matches:
- Châteauguay 3 Okanagan 3
Prince Albert 4 Toronto 1
Halifax 2 Moose Jaw 2
Those wins were from an era when Saskatchewan dominated midget AAA, claiming the Telus Cup in six of seven years. The Notre Dame Hounds were the last Saskatchewan winners, in 2009 and 2010.
Generals coach, Wareham, said the hometown crowd could give his players the lift they need to go on to victory.
"In the playoffs we get 800 people," he said. "If we get that kind of atmosphere, I really like our chances."
For many players, the championship series is a stepping stone to the Western Hockey League, and beyond.
"I want to win a national championship more than anything right now," Legien said. "I'll do everything I can to help my team win."
The gold medal game, which will be televised, will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. CST.
Hockey Stars who have played in a National Midget Championship since its inception (1974):
[Source: Hockey Canada]