2003 - 2004
March 17, 2004
Generals return to not nice home ice
The Generals are glad to be back at the Greensboro Coliseum, but they've fared better on the road so far.
BY LARRY KEECH
GREENSBORO - For the Greensboro Generals, tonight's return to home ice after two weeks away is a good-news, bad-news proposition.
On one hand, the Generals have returned to the Greensboro Coliseum's full-sized hockey rink, their permanent dressing room facilities and their routine for practice sessions and games after surrendering those amenities during the ACC men's and women's basketball tournaments.
On the other hand, home ice has not treated the Generals very kindly this season. They've actually lost one more game at home (18-13) than they have on the road (17-12-1).
"Why we haven't played better at home is hard to put my finger on," coach Rick Adduono said Tuesday. "I've tried to emphasize the importance of winning here. All I can figure is that it seems we've had to spend more time shorthanded and killing penalties on our home ice. Conversely, more breaks have come our way on the road."
At any rate, the Generals will play five of their last 11 regular-season games at the coliseum, including a pair against the ECHL Southern Division's last-place Greenville Grrrowl.
Seven of the eight teams in the division have amassed at least 60 points this season. Greenville, the Generals opponent tonight, has only 12 wins and 29 points.
"Obviously, you're anxious to beat a team that is struggling like that," Adduono said. "But they've lost a lot of one-goal games, and they're good enough to win on any given night. They've beaten us twice, and if we had won those games, we'd have a playoff spot sewed up by now."
With four Southern Division playoff berths available, the Generals are tied for third place with the South Carolina Stingrays. Both teams have 71 points after 61 games. They each have four games in hand when measured against the second-place Florida Ever-blades (75 points) and two in hand against the first-place Columbia Inferno (81 points) and the fifth-place Charlotte Checkers (69 points).
So, though the Generals appear unlikely to overtake Columbia, they have a decent shot at a second-place finish that would give them home ice advantage in a first-round playoff series against the third-place finisher.
Adduono hopes his team can put together a similar finish to last season, when they won their last seven games to finish one point out of first place in the division.
After spending most of Tuesday on his cellular phone in search of one more forward and one more defenseman before the ECHL trade deadline, Adduono learned the deadline would be extended to 3 p.m. Thursday because of newly imposed U.S. immigration policies.
The Generals' coach feels comfortable with two crucial aspects of his team's late-season aspirations.
The team is relatively healthy and awaiting the return of forward Pete Gardiner from a two-month layoff because of a broken bone in his leg.
In addition, the Generals' stretch drive will be fueled by the presence of two top-flight goaltenders.
Jamie Hodson has played in more recent games than veteran standout Daniel Berthiaume because his goals-against average is 2.68.
"Having two quality goalies is what every coach wants," Adduono said. "The three of us have talked, and they understand that the hot goalie is the one who'll play most. Right now, Jamie is hot."
Contact Larry Keech at 373-7080 or email@example.com