The Lacombe Generals were a win away from a Senior AAA national title last year and now like every team in September, have unimpeded optimism for the 2017-2018 Allan Cup Hockey West season.
It’s too early in the fall (or technically still summer) for predictions and projections, but GM Jeff McInnis is playing conductor on the train of positivity for next year. McInnis is happy to welcome back seven defencemen from last year’s roster as well goalie Kraymer Barnstable.
“Optimism is abound at every training camp, for every team, in every league,” McInnis said.
“I think that we’re probably stronger in some areas. Our blueline is strong, we have lots of depth there, more than we ever had. Goaltending, tremendous amount of depth there. Our forwards aren’t as deep as we need to be to be contending and chasing that trophy.”
Jacob DeSerres will be back in net and the Generals added University of Calgary goalie Steven Stanford to the mix. Defenceman and captain Don Morrison is back along with Evan Oberg.
On forward, it has been a summer of reconstruction the Generals GM, who had to replace the dynamic scoring threat of Brandon Magee. The talented forward led the Chinook Hockey League in scoring last season with 13 goals and 21 assists.
Cody Cartier and Kyle Bailey are expected to be big adds on forward.
Bailey had 59 points in 56 games over three seasons with the Generals from 2013-2016.
Forward Matt Brown, who played last season with the Colorado Eagles of the East Coast Hockey League and five seasons at Mount Royal University should also bring some production.
Returning forwards Myles Bell and Jesse Todd will be the old guard who could be relied on heavily.
While that group up front is still a work in progress, one addition to the blueline is a happy returner. Defenceman Nathan Deck is back to be apart of the Generals army, he last played for them in 2015-2016 when he had four points in five games along with eight in 12 playoff games.
Deck returns to Alberta fresh off a stint last season with Mora IK in the Swedish second league.
“Had a good year last year but I was ready to move on and get into real work life and also get to play some hockey. I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said.
Deck is living and working in Calgary and said the major reason he’s back in the fold is how much he enjoyed his time in the league two years ago.
“They have a good team still and they’ve obviously added some guys this year so the team is looking good so far,” Deck said.
“Everybody will get the kinks out early and it is a great group of guys. I just enjoy it. Mostly looking forward to the camaraderie in the dressing room and hanging out with the guys.”
Beyond the product on the ice, McInnis is excited to open the season in Lacombe. Last year they weren’t able to play home games until mid-December.
Lacombe will hit the ice this weekend at SAIT for a pair of exhibition games with Alberta Colleges Athletic Association teams. They’ll also host a tournament at the end of Sept. with RDC Kings, Stony Plain Eagles, Rosetown Red Wings, Innisfail Eagles and the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs.
The Chinook Hockey League was re-branded into the ACHW earlier this summer and the first regular season game under the new banner goes on Oct. 14 in Stony Plain.