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Generals stepping up a notch.

Byline: Chris Hansen The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (Ran Sept. 22, 2007): Markus Stone is the Eugene Generals hockey player taking a shot on goal in a photograph on Page D1 Thursday. A caption contained the incorrect name.

With 21 new players on a 26-man roster, Eugene Generals junior hockey coach Chris Hartly figured there would be some growing pains in the early goings of the 2007 season.

He was right.

The Generals (0-3) went winless last weekend to start the new season and will attempt to notch their first win in their home opening series Friday and Saturday at Lane County Ice against the Rogue Valley Wranglers from Medford. Both games are at 7:35 p.m.

"It was a little bit of a rough start," said Hartly, who is in his second season as head coach and third overall with the team. "But the good news is we played better as the weekend went on and our best game by far was our last one."

Eugene returned only five players from last season's team that went 26-18 and lost in the conference finals to Fort Vancouver.

Coincidentally, Rogue Valley has taken over the spot in the league vacated by Fort Vancouver when the team from Portland was disbanded by the Northern Pacific Hockey League in the offseason for paying players.

"It's really unusual, especially in this league, to have such high player turnover," Hartly said. "We don't like having to rebuild and reload every year, but at the same time, it's good because it means we're developing guys and sending them to a higher level."

Five players off last season's team moved up to play at a higher level of Junior A, while six players were lined up to play college hockey, though only three took the opportunity to do so.

Forwards Justin Adams, Steven Slattery and Tyler Tymchuk, defenseman Trent McKee and goalkeeper Dylan Woodring return.

"I'm definitely expecting big things from our returners," Hartly said. "Dylan is our No. 1 goalie even though we have two guys behind him who challenge him daily. But he has the experience and confidence and knowledge."

McKee and newcomer John Strahle, a Canadian junior hockey veteran, will lead the defense, while the three returning forwards will be bolstered by the additions of Sean O'Connor, George Arroyo and Keddy Malcolm.

"We have a lot of talent and potential," Hartly said. "It's easy to see how we will match up against the rest of the league four, five weeks down the road."

For now, Hartly will have to let the team fight through its growing pains.

"The hardest part for them is that they were all good players where they came from and they all have potential to be good players here," Hartly said. "But they need to make the jump up to play at the level they're at now. They were used to, say, getting the puck and having two seconds to decide what to do with it. Up here, you have to know what you're going to do with the puck before you even go get it. They just need to play faster and they'll get that with experience."

The Nor-Pac league also underwent an offseason change, as USA Hockey moved the league up from Junior B status to Tier III Junior A - a move similar to the Eugene Emeralds baseball team going from a single-A team to a double-A.

The most significant benefit from this change will be the increase in on-ice talent, though it might take a few years to really notice a difference.

"It's going to be a slow change," Hartly said. "The teams we've already played, I've noticed each has two or three players they might not have had before. Three or four years from now, you will really be able to tell."

When it comes to his own team, Hartly hopes it won't take nearly as long.

EUGENE GENERALS REMAINING SCHEDULE

Sept. - 21-22, Rogue Valley, 7:35 p.m. 29-30, at Coeur d'Alene, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. - 5-6, Puget Sound, 7:35 p.m. 8, at Rogue Valley, 7 p.m. 15 - Coeur d'Alene, 5:50 p.m. 19-20, Tri City, 7:35 p.m. 26-27, at Seattle, 8 p.m.

Nov. - 2-3, at Puget Sound, 7 p.m. 9-10, Rogue Valley, 7:35 p.m. 16-17, a Coeur d'Alene, 7:30 p.m. 23, at Puget Sound, 12 p.m. 24, at Puget Sound 7:35 p.m.

Dec. - 7-8, at Tri-City, 7 p.m. 9 - Coeur d'Alene, 4:05 p.m. 14-15, Seattle, 7:35. 21-22, River City, 7:35 p.m.

Jan. - 4-5, at Rogue Valley, 7 p.m. 11-12, Coeur d'Alene, 7:35 p.m. 17, at Rogue Valley, 7 p.m. 18-19, Puget Sound, 7:35 p.m. 25-26, River City, 7:35 p.m.

Feb. - 1-2, Tri-City, 7:35. 8-9, at Seattle, 8 p.m. 16, at River City, 7 p.m. 17, at River City, 4 p.m. 18, at Tri-City, 7 p.m. 22-23, Seattle, 7:35 p.m.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Coach Hartly faces new challenges in the Nor-Pac with new players
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 20, 2007
Words:841
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