Northeast Generals lose 5-1 to Danbury: What comes next?

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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A Hockey Love Story: Aaron and Kelly Dell

Aaron and Kelly Dell’s love story adds up to ten teams, eight cities, and roughly 10,000 miles.

Call it a hockey love story.

Aaron dreams of being a National Hockey League goalie. This means he travels a lot — time spent far from loved ones.

But Kelly isn’t waiting quietly. She’s blogging. Crazy Pucking World: Life of a hockey wife is brutally honest and full of funny things that Aaron has said over the years. Kelly had people tell her that “I would have slapped him, if he said that to me.” She just laughed stating that “just how Aaron is”, I always know what is going on with him because of that. Sometimes though he can be almost too honest, but he always makes sure you are laughing by the end.

Kelly and Aaron relationship has been built on trust and mutual respect. Not many couples could have made it through the struggle of going from an undrafted University of North Dakota goaltender, preserving throughout the minor leagues and now is the backup for the San Jose Sharks.

Kelly had just graduated from high school and Aaron had just finished his freshman year at the University of North Dakota. The pair dated for two years before they were walking around the mall one day. They went into a jewelry store and had been browsing, when Aaron picked out the perfect ring. They looked at one another, “Should we do this?”. A month later they were married in Aaron’s parents back yard in Airdrie, Alberta. Kelly only cared about two things when it came time to walk down the aisle. She wanted a white wedding dress and real flowers. Aaron wanted was to pick the cake which was marble with a custard center, topped with bride and groom rubber ducks, which Kelly collects. After the ceremony, in a perfect homage of Canada and Minnesota style, a bonfire was lite and beers were had.

When talking to Aaron about Kelly, you could hear his love for her in his voice. Even though Kelly and Aaron both said the other one said, “I love you” first. One thing is for sure, they love each other enough to live nearly 2,000 miles apart. The distance has not been easy though. Aaron said that Kelly has always been supportive of my goal of making it to the NHL and besides my parents, she is my biggest supporter. He said “she (Kelly) is my teammate and it’s great that she understands and supports me, so we don’t have to fight between hockey and her.”

One of the things that they share, besides a love for hockey, is the drive that each have. Aaron said it is one of the things he loves most about her. They connected on that from the get go.  “I have to have a lot of drive to do what I do and I couldn’t imagen being with someone who didn’t understand that.” The biggest thing Aaron has learned over the years of being in long distance marriage is how to communicate, which Kelly joked about “sometimes it’s painful to get him to talk, but it means a lot when he does because he doesn’t open up to very many people, even teammates!” Anyone who knows Aaron knows this. Jayson Hajdu, UND Men’s Hockey Media Director, “You never picked Aaron for press conferences. He is just so quiet.”

Kelly watches all of Aaron’s games, whether it be in person or on the television. Aaron said that when they first started dating, he was mildly nervous for her to watch him play. Kelly laughed and said that she gets nervous enough for the both of them. She is looking forward to March when they play two games in Minnesota against the Wild. They have a lot of friends and family that are attending those games. She equated it to when Aaron played against the Minnesota Gophers during his time at UND, they have always had such a rivalry and she would also get nervous for him. Kelly said that one of the great things about Aaron is that nothing offends him, which is a great quality when it comes to being a goaltender, because no matter how well he played in the net the loss would get blamed on him.

The amount of love that they share is memorable and reminded me of what is extraordinary about life.

Love. Respect. Friendship.