Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
In their series finale against Johnstown, the Generals faced a seesaw match that went their way. Arguably retiring Colin Bilek’s number six, and playing the Saturday game had an effect on the result.
The team again got the first goal, but their opponents, the Johnstown Tomahawks fought throughout the game and kept it close until a Jared Scott empty netter gave us the final result.
On the night, Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the Bilek number retirement
” It was really special for me. And I know it was for him and his family. We were able to keep it a secret all the way until we actually announced it. We hid his parents, had a ton of family here. It was great. I always get emotional talking about Colin because he means to much to not only me and the ownership but also the entire Organization. We wouldn’t be what we are without his leadership in those first 2 years. He is the model of the player we are looking for. He is a great person first. Yes he is a great hockey player. But it is his heart that shows through. It is why we have such a high standard for the type of kid we will take here. We don’t care if Colin plays hockey after college (even though I think he will). His number is retired because of the person he is and what he means to not on the Generals but to each of us personally.”
Once again, Brent Keefer and Matthew Boczar chipped in with key goals and showed their development. Of the Generals’ returners for this season, those two have shown immediate improvement both on the ice and the score sheet. Keefer is visiting at least one Division One school and has interest from many more for the speed game he plays, and Boczar has developed his playmaking over the past year. Both are a point or more per game players right now.
As Erikson said of their work
” They are both special young men. They have elevated their games, shown what their hard work in the off season can translate to on the ice. They also both have a full buy in. They boys love them. They work hard and they generate a ton of offense and they are capitalizing on their chances.”
As to two former Charlotte Rush players, CJ Zezima and Jared Scott, Erikson made some good points about their contributions, and the importance of effort and hard work even when you do not have your best game.
He said of Zezima’s work, after he put home his first NAHL goal yesterday ” Zez has really impressed me with his growth in the Defensive zone and his ability to play all 3 Forward positions. He had great coaching with the Charlotte Rush last year with Ryan Cruthers and Troy Schwabb and you can see how it has helped his transition to us. He was a bit unlucky through 7 games hitting posts and not getting the bounces so it was great to see him put one home. But I love him on the Power Play and has prove to be a good player on the PK as well.”
On Jared Scott, who put in the rebound for the game winning goal, he added It was great, Erikson said last night, “I just said to Jared in the locker room. I thought you were terrible tonight. But what defines us as people is what we do when we don’t have it. And he hustled and beat that icing in the 3rd on the shift he scored and that changed everything. It completely changed the game. And we talk about that a lot. One play, one shift, the game can change. So don’t get too high or too low. Just focus on each play every shift.”
That same focus for the Generals is essential heading into their next series against the Johnstown Rebels. They impressed with their effort at the Showcase, and took teams all over the league, including the Lone Star Brahmas, to task with their effort and speed game that allowed them to get ahead quick and hold down leads.
As Erikson said of what to build on ” I thought our effort level was there for all 60 minutes tonight. We did a good job keeping them to the outside. We still have consistency issues and I thought Johnstown bullied us a little bit on the walls. We will need to clean that up in order to beat a good Jamestown team that is always very tough to play against.” The next test for the Generals takes place next week, as they look to continue to build on their start.
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