24 in 24: Northeast Generals
September 6, 2018
The 24 in 24 series features a look at all 24 teams in the NAHL for the 2018-19 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 24 in 24 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with 24 coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Joe Lovell (3rd Year)
2017-18 record: 29-26-5, 63 pts. (4th in the East Division)
2017-18 leading scorer: Mike Egan (51 pts.)
2018 playoffs: Lost to the Philadelphia Rebels in the East Division Semi-Finals, 3 games to 2
2018-19 Division: East
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 19th vs. Minot Minotauros
Home opener: Saturday, September 29th vs. Jamestown Rebels
One of the feel good stories in the NAHL this past season was the Northeast Generals, who had one of the best season-to-season turnarounds in recent league history. After winning just four games during their inaugural 2016-17 campaign, the Generals were the talk of the league right from the start of the 2017-18 season thanks to their 7-1 record in September, including a 4-0 record at the Showcase. They ended up winning 29 games and posting 63 points, which was a 51-point improvement from the season prior.
The Generals made the playoffs for the first time in their brief history and would face the #1-ranked and East Division Champions, Philadelphia Rebels in the opening round. After taking a 2-1 series lead, the Generals found themselves on the cusp of an epic upset of the Rebels, who had been to the Robertson Cup the two previous years. Game 4 would extend to triple overtime, but it was not meant to be for the Generals as they lost a heart-breaker and then fell in Game 5 back in Philadelphia, ending their turnaround dream season.
“I think the team last year exceeded all of our expectations. Not just because of the number of wins we had, but the number of commitments we had and the way we started the season after four wins the year prior was a real nice surprise. I don’t think any of us expected to go 4-0 at the Showcase, but the guys embraced the challenge and wanted to make a statement that our first year was behind us,” said Generals head coach Joe Lovell. “Our number one goal was to make the playoffs and we were one goal away in a third overtime from knocking off the #1 seed and advancing, so I think looking back on it, we were all very happy with the entirety of the season.”
The Generals were also a big contributor to the league’s NCAA commitment totals last season, posting 13 overall commitments (7 NCAA Division I commitments), which was a direct reflection of their impact out East and talent level on the team. “I think it goes to show what a great job the NAHL and our teams do. It is a testament to the talent level in the league and the coaches placing a priority and emphasis on developing their players to a point where they are becoming ready for the NCAA,” said Lovell. “The number of commitments helps our recruitment process. It goes to show how far our program has come in a very short time. It is neat to follow their careers as they leave us and develop as hockey players and young men.”
While the Generals are losing some of their key players from last year like leading scorers Mike Egan and Colin Bilek to the NCAA, the team is returning a good and plentiful group of key veteran players. “Our leadership last year was incredible, so heading into this year that is something we are looking to replace because we lost some key leaders from last season. We have a lot of veterans coming back, so I am confident they can pick up where the others from last year left off,” said Lovell.
Forward Matt Rutigliano (39 GP, 12 pts.) returns for his second season in the NAHL and will serve as team captain for the Generals in 2018-19. He is one of 13 players on the current 25-man roster that had experience previously last season with the Generals. “Matt is well-respected in our lockerroom and I think will do a great job at leading our team this season,” said Lovell.
Other key returners include forwards Louis Boudon (49 pts.), Brady Gaudette (27 pts.), and Alex Cohen (17 pts.). The Generals also will have the benefit of returning both goaltenders from a season ago including Alabama-Huntsville recruit David Fessenden and Marko Sturma. Both had save percentages of .909 or higher last season and will be the backbone to success for the team
“We want to have a strong start like last season, try and get better each game, and then end the season on a high note. Hopefully that means success in the playoffs and a chance to win the Robertson Cup. I know that we will want to get off to a good start like last season,” said Lovell.
Next up in the 24 in 24 series: Odessa Jackalopes