Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography
Last night, the Northeast Generals earned two hard fought points in an overtime win over the Maryland Black Bears, a win of necessity in the Generals’ efforts to make the playoffs. The game was punctuated by the play of Massachusetts commit Jake Dunlap who did everything possible on the first line for the Generals, including scoring two shorthanded goals. That is the first time that any NAHL General has achieved that distinction, and both of those goals were needed. Dunlap also put home an assist on the game winner in overtime, feeding Rickey Boysen on the goal that sent the Generals home with a 6-5 overtime win. In a month where his college made history winning their first national championship, Dunlap etched his name into the history books of the Generals, and hopes to add more to that history before he heads to Amherst.
Head Coach Bryan Erikson had this to say of Dunlap’s night:
“I loved his game. He is so fast but tonight and this weekend he just worked so hard away from the puck. Created scoring chances. Had a 6 point weekend which is what we needed. Was a factor on the PK, PP and 5 on 5.”
On the weekend, another positive for the Generals was the power play. They put home seven power play markers seven goals on 18 chances) on the weekend, thanks in part to a change Erikson and his staff made. As he said
” We just worked on creating chances down low. Our PP tended to be too much up high and the guys weren’t rotating correctly so we worked on just pushing pucks low and battling in front. The guys did a great job.”
As for the officiating on the evening, Erikson went out of his way to discuss the effort by official AJ Potvin.
As Erikson said of the officiating, it was ” A legit nightmare. I just can’t handle when an adult is chirping kids while reffing a game. Just make the calls. You don’t need to swear at my guys and refuse to talk to the coaches. It’s too bad because I thought both teams played well and hard. Frustrating.” He did add more about the officiating in general, noting that ” It’s just tough. We have GREAT reffing in this league. But I was just very unhappy with the lack of communication and the way in which my players were spoken to. I don’t care if you make a bad call just talk to us so we understand what we can do different next time.”
While Erikson will not take credit for it, his staff’s focus on efficiency of puck movement with the extra skater was a crucial part to the success the team had on the power play this weekend. Throughout the year, players and coaches are adjusting as needed. This was no different, and regardless of how the rest of this season goes, this weekend will give Erikson and his staff more positive clips to show the 2021-2022 team, of which many in this group will be a part of.
As for the game itself, the Generals squandered a two goal lead in the third that gave the Black Bears a point for forcing overtime. Erikson was impressed with how his group fought back, and celebrated their resilience.
“I hate that we let up a two goal lead again but I thought the first shift after the tying goal by Schroeder, Yeager and Gordon was awesome. Our guys know how to respond. They don’t always do it but it’s a smart group and a hard working group.” The Generals did not let Maryland get any constant momentum for the rest of the game, despite Maryland putting up good looks, Erikson’s group asserted themselves as the game wore on.
Heading into their next series with a strong Maine team, Erikson noted the message to the group as ” Just keep the forecheck going. We are a great team when we play downhill and we need to do more of that. Just need them to stay even, if we score line up, if they score line up.” To counter Maine, the Generals also need to improve in their transition play and limit odd-man looks for the Nordiques.
While the weekend produced only 50 percent of the total points possible, Erikson and his group are on to the next game. This team has always been about developing players as people and students, and has done so during a global pandemic where the Generals spent most of their season on the road. For them to be anywhere near a playoff conversation is a testament to the persistence of this group, and to the roster assembled by General Manager Matt Dibble, who assembled most of it later into the season. We are just seeing the Generals gel towards the end of this season consistently, and while some players will finish junior hockey after this season, many more, like starting goaltender Hugo Haas are slated to return. The legacy of how this team finishes the regular season, playoffs or not will stretch far beyond the box score, for everyone in this group, regardless of where they go next season.
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