In the jubilation of a game seven overtime winning goal, Bentley Generals coach Ryan Tobler nearly suplexed assistant captain Kyle Bailey onto the ice.
“He made such a big difference for our team coming back and playing the way he did,” said Tobler. “He’s not the only guy who did, there were some big efforts and guys stepping up at crucial times.”
Tobler grabbed hold of Bailey, the closest guy to him and almost lifted him over his head. The feeling of exuberance ran throughout the bench and onto the ice after Colton Hayes buried the goal less than three minutes into overtime.
Bailey, for his part, scored two goals for the Generals, en route to a 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Innisfail Eagles.
The Bentley Generals were down three games to two heading into last weekend. It had been a series where the Generals had to dig deep. Especially after an 8-1 loss in game three.
“It was such an emotional series and we maintained you have to win four games,” said Tobler. “Even after game three, it was one game. Regardless of the score, its the first team to four that wins the series.”
After winning Saturday 4-1, it set up a winner-take-all game seven. The two teams traded goals in the first and second period, but it was Kyle Sheen’s third period marker with 9:30 to play that put the Generals in the driver seat.
With just 11 seconds left on the clock, Eagle’s Chad Ziegler put one past Generals’ netminder Dustin Butler, sending the game to overtime.
Now the focus shifts to their next opponent, the Stony Plain Eagles. The Eagles swept the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs and have been waiting patiently for the winner of the Bentley-Innisfail series.
“After an emotional high like that there’s always a tendency (for a let down),” said Tobler. “It’s my job to make sure we carry the momentum and emotion over. You have to.”
With a few days between the series, the Generals are back on the ice practicing this week.
“You have to use the emotion like that as fuel in practice and preparation,” said Tobler.
The series starts on Friday night at 8 p.m. in Lacombe.
Tobler said there are a few guys they haven’t seen play for Stony Plain yet, including former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth. The Generals won the regular season series, losing only once to Stony Plain in six games.
“They played us tough all year,” said Tobler. “They have a ton of skill up front, they have some scorers. There’s a new energy to them this year.
“You get a player of Ryan Smyth’s calibre, it’s going to give everybody a lift.”