The Lacombe Generals pulled away in the final two games of the Senior Provincial AAA final best-of-seven series and clinched the title in Stony Plain Saturday with a decisive 10-3 victory.
A back-and-forth series that saw the road team win the first four games, the Generals bucked the trend Friday night with a 5-1 win at home and closed the series out the following night on the road.
“When we won, we were in control. We were fairly dominant in all those wins. If you look at the two losses we were very sloppy and were allowing a lot of goals a game,” Generals GM Jeff McInnis said.
“Making mistakes that we shouldn’t be making in the playoffs. Stony Plain was a good competitor in that if you played poorly they were going to beat you. When we played our game, it appeared we controlled our own destiny.”
The victory earned Lacombe a berth in the Allan Cup and when the tournament starts on April 10 in Boutouche, N.B., it will be their 10th appearance in the last 11 years.
“We’re pretty proud,” McInnis said. “This is our 10th Allan Cup in the last 11 years and we don’t take that for granted. it’s been quite a run.”
Since B.C. has no Senior AAA representative this season, the Generals get to forgo the McKenzie Cup, usually played between B.C. and Alberta to determine the region’s Allan Cup team.
McInnis added that while the Chinook Hockey League playoffs were a stiff test for his group, if they hope to repeat as champs in Boutouche, every part of their game will have to be elevated.
“Since 2014, we’ve seen the tournament tougher than ever. There’s no gimmies. The unknown of the New Brunswick team is scary. The Newfoundland team, which is always a juggernaut when they aren’t hosting because they merge with the teams from their league,” McInnis said.
“You probably can’t allow three goals a game. That probably has to be cut in half. Your discipline has to go up. It’s never easy just to get all your men there. There’s so many variables to this.”
Goalie Kraymer Barnstable won six games for Lacombe in the playoffs with a 3.01 goals against average and a .878 save percentage.
While defensively the Generals likely need to tighten up for a chance to win their fourth Allan Cup since 2009, expect the offence to play a major part in the tournament.
Through 10 games in the Chinook League playoffs, Myles Bell averaged a goal a game, Eric Galbraith scored eight times in nine contests and Brandon Magee had almost two points per game.
The Generals will play their first Allan Cup game against the host Boutouche Rams on April 11 before squaring off against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts on April 12. The tournament final will be aired live on TSN on April 15.