It's game on for the Heritage Junior Hockey League after they quickly adapted to the stricter COVID rules.
That's good news for the Cochrane Generals and their fans after a stellar opening two weeks of play.
The Gens are on top of the south division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) with a perfect 3-0 record.
A big test came Friday night against the Okotoks Bisons that saw the Gens come out on top, 6-1, before squeaking by the Strathmore Wheatland Kings on Saturday, 3-2.
The Gens took a 3-1 lead in the first against the Bisons and shut down their offence for the balance of the game.
In Strathmore, the Gens were up 3-1 after two. The Kings scored with just 12.6 seconds left in the third to make it interesting.
"We played really well on Friday night, and we played just average on Saturday, but we stuck with it and found a way to win," says Gens head coach and GM Kurtis Jones.
He says the team was fired up for the game against the Bisons and may have played with less emotion on Saturday. He says it can be difficult to keep that same intensity in back-to-back games.
Now league play continues with the new COVID restrictions in place.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, the Gens host the High River, and those entering the Cochrane Arena will be required to have proof of vaccination, a negative rapid test within 72 hours of entry, or a medical exemption.
Jones says a couple of their players aren't currently vaccinated.
"There's some people, players, fans, everybody, that don't believe in the vaccination, which is up to them. As the coach and general manager, I'm not forcing it on anybody. I've suggested it, the Cochrane Generals hockey club and board of directors have suggested it to all our people, but I'm not going to force vaccinations on anybody, and it's completely up to them."
Choosing the option of completing rapid testing, though, isn't cheap. They're $80 apiece, and that cost adds up quickly.
Jones has asked players to keep their proof of vaccination on their phones at all times, and that the league is going to be enforcing the rule.
He says it's up to the arena staff to enforce the restrictions at the Cochrane Arena.
Sunday's game has a 2:30 p.m. start.
- Jace Moffat has joined the Generals defense, fresh from the WHL's Kelowna Rockets camp. He dressed for both games over the weekend. Jones says his play was impressive. That brings the Gens roster to 25 players.
- The Gens currently have the top four scorers in the league. Patrick Ford is at the top with eight goals and four assists for 12 points. He's followed by linemate Dean Olenyk with 9 points, Tristan Ripplinger with eight, and defenceman Jordan Marks with seven.
- Gens returning goalie Davyn LaRocke got his first two starts of the season between the pipes. He turned away 35 of 36 shots of the Bisons, and 34 of 36 by the Wheatland Kings. The Gens landing 53 on the net in both weekend games.
- The Kainai Braves may have lost their opening game to the Gens, 17-2, but they bounced back with a 6-5 win over the High River Flyers in Game Two. They're being lead by Easton Weasel Head, currently the number two goal scorer in the league.