By Craig Campbell
Special to the Advocate
Clarenville 5 Bentley 1
Bentley Generals were overpowered by the speed and shooting of arch-rival Clarenville Caribous, and the Newfoundland team won their Allan Cup semifinal 5-1 to head to the championship game for the second year in a row — while sending Bentley back to Alberta.
A red-eyed Ryan Tobler, Bentley’s head coach, was so overcome by emotion shortly after the loss he had to delay a post-game interview.
“It’s hard,” Tobler said.
Bentley actually got on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead off a Sean Robertson power play goal. Assists went to Curtis Austring and Chris Neismet.
The Generals struggled to score goals all week — finding the net just six times in their previous three games. And against Allan Cup tournament leading goalie Jason Churchill, the lone first period goal was all they would get Friday afternoon.
Bentley outshot Clarenville 35 to 27, but Churchill and the Caribous defence weren’t giving an inch.
Two minutes into the second period, Clarenville’s tournament leading offence stepped in as well.
Dale Sullivan, Chris Hulit, Dustin Russell and Cam Fergus all broke through Bentley’s defence and found the net behind Bentley goalie Travis Yonkman to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.
As if scoring three goals against Churchill and the Caribous wasn’t already hard enough, Bentley took four late third period penalties. Hulit scored his second of the game on a power play to make it 5-1. James Reid played the final period in net for Bentley.
“In the first period we came out a little slow,” Hulit said. “Maybe the off day had something to do with it. Maybe it was a mental thing against Bentley.”
He suggested the fact Clarenville did not score a single goal against Bentley in last year’s 3-0 Allan Cup final might have been affecting the Caribous offence. But when the broke the ice early in the second frame, the floodgates broke.
“They came out strong,” Hulit said of Bentley. “They’re a big, strong team and they came out hard. We tried to do what we could to get more pucks to the net.”
Tobler said Clarenville was looking for opportunities to stretch Bentley’s defence with their speed throughout the game.
“That skill is hard to contain for 60 minutes,” Tobler said.
He said he was proud of how his players competed and battled, and that he was proud to coach them all year long.
“This is a very close bunch of guys and there’s a lot of emotion in (the locker room) right now. That group will never be duplicated,” Tobler said.
He pointed out losing their two preliminary games forced Bentley to play four games in four days.
“We were prepared…but that’s the importance of winning the first two games of the Allan Cup.”
Later Friday, the host Dundas Real McCoys beat Kenora Thistles 4-0. Dundas will meet Clarenville in the 2014 Allan Cup championship final Saturday at 3 p.m.