- Created: 24 September 2014
Eugene, OR -When the game clock starts and the opening puck drops Friday night, it will start a new season of hockey in Eugene. Finally, all the practices and training in the offseason come to fruition and players get the opportunity to prove themselves in games.
Yet when the opening puck does drop on Friday, September 26, it will mean a lot more than that. It will mark the importance of something that has never been done in the city of Eugene. It will mark a decade of the longest-running hockey franchise Eugene has ever witnessed when the Generals take the ice Friday night to open up their tenth season.
The Eugene Generals will start their historic tenth year Friday night when they host the visiting, expansion Wenatchee Wolves. Friday’s game will start at 7:35 PM.
With the huge milestone of ten years, there will be a different atmosphere surrounding Friday’s game compared to others in the past. This is especially true for those who have been with the Generals since their inception in 2005, including General Manager Flint Doungchak.
“We’ve seen teams come and go with previous Eugene pro and junior hockey teams lasting anywhere from 1-3 years,” commented Doungchak. “I think the atmosphere [on Friday] will be of accomplishment and excitement. Hopefully the excitement lasts another ten years.”
The Generals also enter the season trying to increase their streak of postseason appearances. In each of their nine years, the Generals have reached the playoffs every year they have been in existence. Reaching the playoffs for a tenth consecutive season would be yet another proud achievement in the team’s illustrious history.
In order to achieve that kind of success, the Generals must challenge in what will be a very competitive league this year. The Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL) has seven teams who will fight for four playoff spots. With the addition of expansion teams in Wenatchee and Cheney, Washington, there will be more competition and excitement than ever before.
One advantage the Generals have in their favor is the return of several veterans from last season’s roster. One of those key veterans is Veneta native Connor Hoernlein, who returns for his fourth year in a Generals uniform and continues to steadfastly improve every season. In his first three seasons, Hoernlein’s point total has increased from 4 to 17 to 44 a year ago. He should figure to be one of the top scorers not just on the Generals, but in the entire NPHL as well.
Another veteran who should provide plenty of scoring is Forward Dans Berzanskis. Entering his second season in junior hockey, Berzanskis was second on the team last year in points with 53 (25 goals, 28 assists). Like Hoernlein, the Latvia native could be near the top in the league in scoring.
On defense, Kyle Ruchas from Colorado enters his third year playing hockey in Eugene. Not only has he been a force as a defenseman, he also continues to be one of the main vocal leaders for the Generals. His veteran presence will help the younger players improve as the season goes on.
The Generals also enter the 2014-15 season with a group of goaltenders who have all shown the potential to become the primary starter. Daniel Spencer and Chris Pritchard return to Eugene for their second years after spending most of last season on the bench. When they played, however, they both made an impact with a combined record of 6-3 and save percentage of 89.6%. Also in the goalie equation is rookie Trevor Monaco, who looks to prove himself in his first year of junior hockey.
In addition to Friday’s home opener, the Generals will also play another home game Saturday night. They will be hosting the Wolves again at the same 7:35 start time. Tickets are available online at eugenegenerals.com or by calling 541-359-4154.
For those who cannot make it either Friday or Saturday night, the Eugene Generals Hockey Network (EGHN) will broadcast both games live via the team’s website. Coverage begins about fifteen minutes before the first faceoff, at 7:20.
For more information:
Director of Public Relations
Upcoming Practice Schedule:
Thursday On-Ice (7:30 AM-9:00 AM)
Friday On-Ice (11:45 AM-12:45 PM)
Please call to schedule interview or film footage.