It’s been 21 days since the Lacombe Generals played a Chinook Hockey League game, but they will finally drop the puck on the Alberta Senior AAA Provincial final against Stony Plain Saturday night.
The Generals swept the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs in four games on Feb. 19, while Stony Plain won their series in game six against the Innisfail Eagles on Feb. 26.
Both teams will likely look to shake of the rust when the puck drops, but Generals GM Jeff McInnis said it shouldn’t take very long for the familiar foes to renew pleasantries.
“They’ve got some high-end stuff, they’ve got some jam. I expect it to be tough. I don’t expect it to be easy,” he said. “We were punished a bit with our sweep of Fort Saskatchewan with the world’s longest layoff here. So it’s about keeping your own house in order… A shortage of focus won’t be an issue.”
If there’s one guarantee in the series there should be a few goals scored as the teams combined for 61 in six contests this season. The Generals won the season series 4-2, including a wild 9-7 game that concluded the regular season.
“I remember a Friday night in January, we mopped them up 6-1. We controlled the game. We were dynamite. The next night, we went up there and it was rolls reversed. That washes out what you think you know,” McInnis said.
“We had some close games, I don’t like to talk about the 9-7 game we had because that’s a game that I think both teams would like to forget. There isn’t a lot of ground gained one way or the other.”
While Generals star Brandon Magee led the league in points with 34 in 20 regular season games, Eagles forward Bryce Williamson has been on fire in the playoffs with 17 points in their six games.
Williamson was third in league scoring with 32 points in 20 games this year.
Both Nik Yaremchuk and Adam Chorneyko scored six goals in six playoff games for Stony Plain while Myles Bell scored four for Lacombe in four games. Bell also scored 21 goals in 20 regular season contests.
The difference could be in goal, where Generals goalie Kraymer Barnstable won 14 regular season games and carried a league best 2.91 goals against average and .908 save percentage into the playoffs.
Both Vincent Marozzi and Travis Yonkman in the Eagles net allowed over four goals a game this season and had save percentages below .900.
Former Edmonton Oilers great and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ryan Smyth will also be in the Eagles lineup with the series gets underway Saturday.
Those numbers and names may all be fresh in the players’ minds come puck drop, but McInnis said the playoffs are a different animal all together.
“Now you get to test who you think you are,” he said.
“Find out if you are as good as you think you are or want to be. These are the games that everybody wants to be playing in.”