It was a heart-breaking end to a successful season for the Lacombe Generals in Rosetown, Saskatchewan Saturday night.
The Generals lost 7-4 to the Stoney Creek Generals in the Allan Cup final, bringing an end to another marvelous run at the national Senior Men’s AAA hockey championship.
It was the Generals fourth appearance in-a-row in the Allan Cup final and ninth time over the past 11 seasons as either the Lacombe Generals or Bentley Generals.
The first period in this one however started off with Lacombe getting on the board first when Ian Barteaux scored at the 2:44 mark, making it 1-0 for the home team.
Stoney Creek scored next though when Justin Donati capitalized on a power play opportunity at 8:30 to tie it back up at 1-1.
The Stoney Creek Generals grabbed their first lead of the game when Jarrett Konkle scored at 14:10 to make it 2-1 for the visitors. Teammate Sean Blanchard then took advantage of another power play opportunity at 19:09 to make it 3-1 Stoney Creek after twenty minutes.
In the second, Lacombe showed some special teams prowess, scoring on the power play at 6:12 courtesy of Myles Bell. That was followed up with a short-handed effort from Jesse Todd at 11:34 which made it 3-3 after two periods of play.
In the third, Lacombe quickly regained the lead when Ian Barteaux picked up his second goal of the game, scoring just 34 seconds into it and putting the western Generals ahead 4-3 in the final frame.
Stoney Creek took over the scoreboard from there however as Nathaniel Pageau found the net at the 4:33 mark to tie it back up at four goals apiece.
Soon afterwards, Stoney Creek’s Tyler Donati gave the visitors the lead once again as he scored at 5:50 to make it 5-4, setting the stage for a final push from both teams with 14:10 left to play.
Down by one goal, Lacombe eventually pulled goaltender Jacob Deserres with 1:15 left to play but Stoney Creek’s Robert Hisey found the open net and scored an unassisted goal at 19:06 to make it 6-4.
The eastern Generals would score one last empty-net goal from Justin Sawyer with no time left on the clock and made it a 7-4 final.
Shots on goal finished 36-33 in favour of Stoney Creek.
Lacombe Generals Head Coach Sean Robertson says it feels like they let one slip away.
“There were times when we would take over, then there were times when we would just be chasing the game, chasing them around,” laments Robertson. “Obviously the penalties, power plays and penalty kill, not a whole bunch of flow to it until the refs put their whistles away in the last six minutes. By that time we were trying to get the tying goal and we played a veteran team that just knows how to lock a one-goal lead down.”
He credits Stoney Creek for the victory though, saying they’re very gifted offensively.
“We didn’t force our game enough and we ended up playing theirs for a little bit, that’s when we weren’t successful” explains Robertson. “In the third we had a breakdown d-zone and then we had a breakdown neutral zone where we were on the wrong side of the puck. They’re a team that likes to get in-behind the defense and we preach that we didn’t want to let that happen but they still found a way to do it.”
Despite a disappointing end to the season, Robertson admits there are many positives to take away, pointing out they were a team that did it by committee.
“We won the league championship, the Allan Cup West championship and we won our provincials,” states Robertson. “We started with a whole bunch of guys and got incredible buy-in along the way and we built and built and built and were playing some pretty good hockey towards the end. That’s what I like to see, as a coach that’s what you want and that’s what we got.”
General Manager Jeff McInnis agrees it’s a tough day for the organization.
“We put a lot of time and effort in to make our team successful and when you’re not successful, it hurts,” admits McInnis. “We’re very proud of what we have and what we’ve accomplished and not they shouldn’t have beat us but kudos to them, the better team won. They were able to win that championship game, so all the credit goes to them for winning it.”
Mcinnis adds however he’ proud of the effort everyone gave.
“Our coaches, our trainers and our staff, everyone did everything they could to win that game,” states McInnis. “When you fall short, you reflect on ‘What could I have done more, could I have done better’? The line between winning and losing is so razor thin in that game, anybody who watched knows it could have gone either way.”
He concludes that despite the loss in the Allan Cup final, it was a successful campaign and he’s very grateful for all the support the team receives in Lacombe.
“The reception we’ve received in Lacombe and how we’ve become immersed in that community, I never would have thought it would be this good,” states McInnis. “There’s a love affair there, we’re pretty smitten with them and I think they’re pretty smitten with us. It’s tough to be down beyond a day like today because there’s so many things to be grateful for with our hockey club and all the people that believe in it.”
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