Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Today was a day of contrasts for the Northeast Generals. They quadrupled their goal output from yesterday, had a two goal lead for a big part of the first period, but ultimately came up just short against the Minnesota Magicians, not because they were outworked, or the least physical team. The Generals had moments of pure brilliance like a nice play on a goal from Nick Ramm, and a beautiful play with Brent Keefer converting top shelf on a nice give and go, amongst their four goals.
Those moments were overshadowed by mistakes. As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of those mistakes in general ” they don’t feel like huge mistakes when they don’t score on them.” Tonight, the Magicians scored on a few o them, and those mistakes put the Generals in an untenable position to earn two points.
This game encouraged Erikson to where a Bishop Sycamore Football shirt after the game when talking to his team. The reason is simple, because he wants to find out who this group is, whether they are a competive team capable of great things, and if their three wins are for real, or a mirage for how well they can play, and what the potential of this group is. The Generals have scored first in both of their games at this Showcase that they have lost, and came from behind in their win over Bismarck. That is a trend Erikson would like to see end. That is the trend of giving up leads and losing games, where statistically you should hold the edge. The team also faced former General Jake Hosszu who was drafted by the Magicians in the NAHL draft this summer. He contributed minutes and an assists against his former team.
With that said, Erikson did have some good things to say. Despite not having his best game of the year tonight, he appriciated the level of compete Carson Limesand played with in net. Despite conceeding five goals, Limesand showed the same toughness in net he has in all of his starts in his young NAHL career, and still made several key saves to keep the deficit reachable. Erikson is incredibly loyal to his players, and credits the team for how quickly they have come together over their first five games. That loyalty is why at an event where transactions amongst teams are being discussed ahead of the October 1 cutdown date to 23 players, Erikson is not even talking trades with anyone. He cares about putting his team in the best spot, and is using this time to make sure all 28 players see playing time, which after tomorrow, all of those not injured are likely to have received.
Going forward to their showcase finale against a very skilled Amarillo Wranglers team, these Generals need to find out who they are. They have shown flashes of brilliance, like in their sweep of Danbury, and win over Bismarck. They have also shown how games can get away from them like against two very good teams in New Mexico, and the Magicians today. While Erikson likes playing his system, it can be tough to get into against teams like the Magicians who the Generals will only play once a year. These games at the Showcase are proving to be tough to scout for teams looking to prepare on less than 24 hours rest to play the herculean task of four high energy games that count in four days in a row, but more importantly, especially for 2001 born players like Brent Keefer, these games are proving incredibly important to build rapport with Division One Coaches looking to find the next Colin Bilek for them. Today Keefer and a few other Generals showed flashes of that. Keefer and Jared Scott both played solid, well rounded games and Keefer got a goal for his efforts. It took Bilek the showcase, and Erikson’s persistence to get noticed and an offer. For a lot of the 2001 born players, like Keefer, they are enjoying every moment of this showcase, especially because they know what not having it meant for the 2000 born players. When teams do not get this showcase to scout, and in person recruiting is banned, as it was last year, coaches miss the nuance of being in a rink, and watching a player. The video stream shows so much, and now this year all players have had hundreds of scouts and a lot of NHL teams looking for the next player like Bilek.
The Generals get one more chance to finish strong in Blaine tomorrow against the Wranglers. Tomorrow, this group will get one step closer to finding out their true potential on the ice before heading back into Eastern Division play. If this team returns to Blaine, it will be because they are in the Robertson Cup. They have their showcase finale, and 54 more regular season games to earn the right to compete for it.
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