by Patrick Garriepy
The Northeast Generals went into this year’s NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, MI with high hopes of building off their first win of the season against Maine the previous weekend.
Things didn’t quite go as they may have hoped.
The Generals didn’t find the scoreboard until game 3 and didn’t notch a victory until the final game of the showcase. Game one versus the Janesville Jets (Janesville, WI) saw the Generals shut out for the first time this season, falling 5-0 while being outshot 31-21 by the Jets. Nick Gonrowski led the way for Janesville, scoring two goals.
Game two versus the Odessa Jackalopes (Odessa, TX) was a chance to get things rolling once more and return to the .500 mark for the second time this season. Despite coming out with a strong showing, Odessa goaltender Zach Stern managed to stonewall the Generals and their 31 shots, leading his team to a 1-0 victory and leaving the Generals where the offense had gone. Fortunately for the Generals, with Showcase features four games in four days, meaning a chance to turn the page was just a day away.
Game three on Thursday brought the General’s next opponent, the Topeka Pilots (Topeka, KS) into the rink for an early afternoon tilt. For the third straight game, the Generals surrendered the first goal of the game and were forced to attempt a comeback from a deficit. Their first goal of the tournament may have come at the most unlikely of times. While killing a 5-on-3 penalty, Gerard Marretta found himself streaking up the wing, by himself on a breakaway. Marretta cut in front the right wing and swooped across the crease, shoveling a backhander past goaltender Tyler Bost and evening things up at 1-1.
Marretta’s second tally of the season would soon be matched by teammate Trevor Smith, giving the Generals their first lead of the tournament. Alas, despite holding leads of 3-1 and 4-2, Northeast once more found itself in trouble and allowing more goals than they could muster up themselves. The Pilots scored one inthe second period and two in the third to complete a 5-4 comeback win, and leaving the Generals wondering what they had to do to get a win.
With their final game in Minnesota upon them, the Generals knew they needed to put together an effort where they could establish a lead early rather than fall behind for a fourth straight game. After rookie netminder Joey Stanizzi (0-4) played the first three games, it was backup netminder Ethan Racz once more being asked to get the ball rolling for the Generals. Racz notched his first win of the season the previous week against Maine. His opponent this time: The defending Robertson Cup champion Aberdeen Wings (Aberdeen, MI). He would once again rise to the challenge.
Cade Destefani (1) tallied the first goal of the game for the Generals for the first time in the tournament, but the offense once again would go dry as the teams exchanged opportunities for the better part of two periods. It wouldn’t be until late in the second period where Wings forward Riley Murphy would beat Racz and tie the game at one.
A back and forth third period would see more big saves from both goalies, but this time it was the Generals getting a timely late goal from Trevor Smith (3). Racz stopped 26 shots on 27 attempts as Generals held on for a narrow 2-1 victory over the defending champs. Now, the Gens will look to build off their win as they return home to Attleboro for a 3-game weekend set against the Jamestown Rebels. Game one takes place on Friday, Sept 27 (7pm) at the New England Sports Village.