After watching their arch-rivals, the Innisfail Eagles, take care of business against the defending champion Stoney Creek Generals and punch their way to the 2019 Allan Cup finals, the pressure was on the Lacombe Generals to beat the Rosetown Red Wings and make it an all Alberta affair.
Luckily for the Generals, a solid first period quickly alleviated any pressure they may have been feeling — leading the host team to faceoff against the Eagles on Saturday in what is expected to be one of the most heated Allan Cup finals in recent history.
“Our start was huge. We were chomping at the bit. Getting that day off was nice but we have been working for this all year, guys are fired up and excited for the opportunity,” Generals Captain Brennen Evans said.
Kyle Stroh was the forward who got things started for the Gens, scoring the first goal of the game to keep his Allan Cup hot streak alive. Lacombe would continue to dominate puck possession for the rest of the period, eventually leading the second goal of the game by Nolan Huysmans which would wrap up the first period score sheet at 2-0.
“You want to establish their game rather than them establish there’s,” Generals Coach Sean Robertson said. “You want to start well. You don’t want to stick a toe in the water and see how it goes. You want to dictate play.”
The second period would see Rosetown wrestle away puck dominance from Lacombe — with Lacombe playing several minutes of 5-on-3 hockey due to penalties resulting in a goal by Red Wing Justin Fox.
“We got some big efforts from guys like Kyle Ross and (Tyler) Weiman. We had some huge efforts on the PK and we aren’t talking right now unless we stymie them,” Robertson said.
Evans was impressed with his squads effort on the penalty kill.
“It is not something we want to make a habit of doing, especially tomorrow night but that is how our season has kind of went. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done,” he said.
Undaunted, the Generals would march right back on an odd-man rush resulting in a goal by Kyle Ross that put Lacombe up 3-1 heading into the deciding frame.
The Generals would use smart hockey throughout the third, which ultimately resulted in them maintaining their 3-1 lead — locking up their spot in the finals.
Generals netminder Tyler Weiman finished with 27 shots on the night and Lacombe now looks ahead to a familiar foe in the Eagles.
“We have always known they work hard. They are resilient. They don’t stop and since Brian (Sutter) has been there, it has been that way,” Robertson said.
The 2019 Allan Cup Finals will be on Saturday, April 13th at 6 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
“It is a one game showdown and the key for us is that our guys have to play within their selves and not try to do much,” Robertson said.
Tickets for the game are sold out, but the game will be broadcasted nationally on TSN.
“It is almost like a story book,” Evans said. “We were going to end up playing them. They played well throughout the tournament and earned their way to tomorrow night’s game.
“I think that will be the hardest game of the tournament for us.”