Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography
In a season marred by a pandemic, and a months long road trip resulting from said pandemic, Northeast Generals Head Coach Bryan Erikson is honest about the last two games of the season, after his group lost a 5-1 result to close out their all to brief home season. He said ” Our boys won’t quit. They will play hard. Not always as hard or as smart as I want but they are great kids and I am very proud to be able to tell people that I get to Coach them.” Eriskon is ready to finish the season on the road against Maryland strong, and his group is already preparing for a season that will look a lot different for his team.
As he said in crediting Media Relations Director Alice Boushell and Marketing Director Matt Atherton ” Matt and Alice are truly the backbone of our organization. They do such an amazing job from meals, to hotels, to getting play by play guys etc. They are the best in the business and incredibly hard workers. We knew we weren’t going to play a lot of home games so we didn’t hire a full time broadcaster this year but that will be one task that they are excited to tackle. We just spent a ton of money to upgrade our broadcast for next year where we will have a 4 camera set-up with instant replay and graphic overlays that they are really excited about. I am too, game presentation matters, it gets fans watching but also scouts get a better view of our players.”
As for tonight, the shutout was averted as Jake Dunlap scored a power play goal in the third period to make it a 5-1 game. What did the Generals in was conceding, on two successive non even strength chances, a power play goal, and a shorthanded goal to the Hat Tricks in the first period before they could get going. In net, Jake Essensa did a lot to keep the Generals in the game, but the Jr. Hat Tricks did a lot of things right to get their five scores. For his debut game at the NAHL level, Essensa looked like he belongs, and also may get another look before the season ends. For the Maryland series to close the season out, it is not likely that any more players outside of the active roster will be seen. As Erikson said ” We toyed with the idea of playing Nick and Tyler Ramm who are 2 of our tenders from our U18 team but we also have to weigh being loyal to the guys that have been here all year. We rode with guys for a long time and I think we are going to do the same in Maryland.”
Josh Seeley made 49 saves for the Jr. Hat Tricks tonight .As Erikson said of his effort ” I thought Danbury’s goalie was outstanding. We had 4 wide open nets where we shot the puck and he came out of nowhere.” With that said, Erikson wanted to see more screens, and more taking away of the goaltender’s sight which did not happen enough to win a hockey game for the Generals tonight.
Beyond the season, the Top Prospects showcase awaits some Generals players. As Erikson said , he wants as many players on teams as possible. He added ” t all depends on how many we get in. Might only be 2. It’s going to be tough. Jonathan Young, Liam McCanney, Ricky Boysen and Tyler Cooper are all very good choices. They have all been great for our program and done what has been asked of them and more. I would love for all of them to get there but just not how it works. And if their is an NHL Top Prospects Team like there has been in the past I would love to see Paul Minnehan and Hugo get a shot in front on NHL scouts with other players in the same situation.”
Of Haas and helping Essensa tonight, Erikson added “Hugo is a great person. Always talks to Jake, gives him advice and asks questions. He was his biggest cheerleader today. It’s great to see. Just 2 young men that are great kids and great goalies who bounce things off of each other.”
Erikson coaches a team full of great humans, and this group has 120 more minutes on the ice in regulation to earn wins and visibility. For those looking for college commitments, this is their last chance to impress some folks with the group they have battled with for most of the season. For all of those leaving following the year, it is two more chances to close their book of junior hockey on a high note with a win. For those returning, two wins to end the season would mentally shorten the offseason for them, and add some positivity heading into camp next year. For all of them, this group that has fought together through a pandemic, it is a chance to show the league how far they have come, two more final tests to showcase what the Northeast Generals are to the world before the offseason begins, starting Thursday, May 13.
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