The Northeast Generals, fresh off their 1-3 road trip in Minnesota at the NAHL Showcase Tournament, returned to the New England Sports Village this past weekend to host the Jamestown Rebels in a 3 game set.
Coming into the weekend, the Generals found themselves struggling to get going out of the opening gate, starting the year 2-4 and misfiring on the offensive side of the puck, averaging a paltry 2.33 goals per game including two shutouts. With their early-season struggles on display, the Generals looked to right the ship against the incoming winless Jamestown squad.
Things wouldn’t immediately go the way Northeast had hoped.
On Friday – With rookie goaltender Joey Stanizzi in net and still looking for his first NAHL win – the Generals once again struggled on offense. Stanizzi had received little offensive support to this point of the season, with Northeast only tallying more than one goal in one of his first four starts. With the game being scoreless going into the third period, this night would, unfortunately, turn out no different than his last four losses. The Generals once again failed to get more than one puck past Jamestown goalkeeper Noah West, as Jamestown would go onto collect their first win on the season. Following the game, Northeast could only take a long look in the mirror at themselves as they searched for answers and consistency.
Game 2 of the Weekend series saw Stanizzi getting the night off, a common occurrence for the Generals starting goaltender, who typically will see action in 2 out of 3 games of a weekend series. Goaltender Ethan Racz, who had been responsible for helping record the Generals first two wins of the season, had been cut from the team heading into the Jamestown series. Taking his place in the backup role would be 6’7” Finnish goaltender Arttu Ruotsalainen, acquired from the Bismarck Bobcats. Ruotsalainen, also in his rookie season, entered the contest with a record of 0-1, having been pulled in his only start this season against the Lone Star Brahmas. His first start with the Generals turned out better for him and his new teammates.
Despite once again surrendering the first goal of the game and chasing the lead, this night would be different for Northeast. Roughly five minutes after the games opening tally, Gens winger Ethan Destefani entered the offensive zone on the left-wing, then used a power move to skate past defenders toward the net mouth, stuffing the puck past Jamestown’s West and knotting the game at 1-1.
Things would stay that way until late into the third period when UVM-commit Trevor Smith untied the game with his fourth goal of the young season. Smith was able to corral a loose puck in corner of the offensive zone and make a cut-move to the slot, freeing himself to snap one by goaltender Noah West. The Generals would not look back from that point, tacking on goals from Liam McCanney and Jack Ring.
Sunday’s rubber match saw a return to the net for Northeast goaltender Joey Stanizzi as he would take to the ice for his 6th start of the season. Blake Arnesson dressed for his first game in a Generals uniform after being acquired in a transaction with Bismarck, donning the number 7 jersey. Despite coming off of a win the previous night, game 3 started in a familiar fashion for Northeast, allowing the first goal of the game for the seventh time in nine games. Jamestown forward Matt Hubbarde collected a puck in the neutral zone and went in alone against two defenders – firing off a shot and managing to bury a circus rebound attempt past Stanizzi, giving the Rebels the 1-0 advantage. Despite allowing the goal, the tide would turn this time for the rookie netminder.
The Generals would go onto to score the next 5 goals of the game, with tallies from Michael Heneghan (1), Liam McCanney (2) Ricky Boysen (1), Joseph Mancuso (2) and Gerard Marretta (3) – but the key moment may have come 3 minutes into the second period, before the Generals could finally gain the lead. With the game tied at 1, the play was in the Generals end of the ice when Rebels forward Jason Ruszkowski found himself alone in front of the net. He received a pass from Matt Hubbarde and decided to cut across the net mouth on Stanizzi’s stick side, where he appeared to have a sizable opening to fire the puck home. With the puck sliding along the ice, Stanizzi quickly slapped his stick to the ice, stopping the puck and preserving the tie. Just two minutes later, Northeast had the lead and never looked back, capturing a 6-2 win and Stanizzi’s first. Charlie Reid capped the scoring for the Generals with his first of the season.
The Generals return to the New England Sports Village this weekend for a two-game set with division-leading New Jersey Titans. Game 1 takes place on Friday, October 4th at 7 pm and Game 2 on Saturday, October 5th at 7.