For a second straight season, Adelaide's Under 22 ice hockey team the Adelaide Generals are leading the Australian Junior Ice Hockey League. The Generals are looking primed to contend for a second straight championship on March 17 weekend in Melbourne.
Adrenaline fans should be excited. It looks like there is a fantastic generation of talent coming through, and it could be on display as early as this season.
The team is made up of a few regular Adrenaline players like Ryan Foll, Zach Boyle, and last year's rookie Jordan Geyer. A number of rising stars could play a big role in the Adrenaline in 2018.
Foll, who captains the Generals, hopes junior success will soon translate to wins in the AIHL. "I think it's a combination of things that make the Generals so good," he says. "Players are aged 15 to 21 but it feels like one big family. Nobody is left out and I think that translates on the ice."
Players like Foll have seen lots of success in the AJIHL. Last year he captained the team to a National Championship. This year he has 9 goals, 11 assists and and 20 points - good for fourth in the AJIHL.
In fact, four of the Top 5 scorers will suit up for Adelaide this season. Zach Boyle, a defenseman, leads the AJIHL with 24 points in 12 games. Corey Stringer plays for the Melbourne Glaciers and has 20 points. He'll move to Adelaide when the season ends.
Generals head coach Corey Smith, who played for the Avalanche and has also coached the Adrenaline, says he thinks it gives South Australia hope that brighter days are ahead.
"The dominance that our state had in the 1990’s on a national level, through until the early 2000’s when every team feared us for our intensity and highly skilled game play, has now been reborn with these players," he says.
Then are two Adrenaline rookies ready to make an impression. Nathaniel Benson (16 points) and Brad Chenoweth (14 points) look primed to get their first taste of meaningful minutes in the AIHL this season.
"They're both really good young talents," says Foll. "I've been playing with them most of the year on the first line. They both have had a small taste of AIHL hockey and I think in years to come they'll be wearing the Adrenaline jersey consistently."
The AJIHL is still relatively new in format, but players like Foll are hopeful it can offer a stepping stone up to the AIHL.
"Before the AJIHL existed, Australian hockey didn't offer a lot in terms of development for players between the ages of 16-21. Unless they were good enough to already be playing at AIHL level (which is very few) you would only be able to see the best talent Australia has to offer one weekend a year at state tournaments," he says.
Smith says that the Generals all know each other really well. "Team ethics and team commitment and communication is the base to our solid unit and with the team working hard for the common goal has created our Generals family and we have a lot of positivity and believe we can achieve our goal," Smith says.
The Generals play in the AJIHL Finals March 17 and 18 in Melbourne. Stay tuned to their facebook page here for more details!