INNISFAIL — The Bentley Generals are heading back to the Allan Cup and they didn’t need God’s rocket ship to get there.
The Generals completed their four-game sweep of the Innisfail Eagles on Sunday with a 4-1 victory.
Instead, it was new comer Torrie Dyck leading the way to Clarenville, Nfld., with a three-point (two goals, one assist) night that also landed him the playoff MVP award.
The former University of Alberta Golden Bear chose to join the Generals for this exact opportunity.
“There’s nothing like winning and when you come to an organization like this that’s built so well year after year it’s a lot of fun,” said Dyck.
Cam Maclise and AJ Gale also scored for Bentley while Dustin Butler made 25 saves for the win.
Pete Vandermeer scored Innisfail’s lone goal while Steven Stanford made 31 saves in the loss.
Prior to the series, Eagles head coach Brian Sutter said, in regards to the Generals: “I know Bentley’s a heck of a team, but they didn’t all come down from heaven on a rocket ship, they’re not the best thing that God ever brought to this earth; it’s contrary to what everybody talks about with them.”
Despite losing the Chinook Senior Hockey League and AAA provincial final in four-straight games, the Eagles gave the heavily favoured Generals all they could handle.
“All four games we played in the final there was a short span where there was a turning point … that’s experience, we made a couple of rookie mistakes on the first two goals we gave up,” said Sutter. “They’ve got a good team, give them credit for what they did.”
On Sunday, the two teams were tied 1-1 through the first period, but Bentley cracked it open with a pair of goals in the second. First Maclise gave them the lead with a one-timer from the top of the slot at 14:37, then Gale stretched it to a 3-1 lead as he chipped a shot short side on Stanford at 19:23.
Dyck iced the game with an empty-netter at 18:39 of the third period.
“We just locked down and paid attention to details, won the right puck battles and played tight defensively,” said Generals head coach Ryan Tobler.
“I’m most proud of the way the guys compete and battle for one another and work as a unit and we’ve done that all year.”
The Generals only have 10 players left on their team from when they won the Allan Cup in 2013. The roster has been turned over with a number of top young players like Maclise, Dyck, Giffen Nyren who was also named the league’s top defenceman, and Butler who was named top goalie.
Tobler credited general manager Jeff Mcinnis and manager Wes Gyori for collection of youth and finding the jobs and everything else that goes with putting the team together.
Dyck had 20 points (10-10-20) in 20 games with the Generals in the regular season, but lead the team in scoring in the playoffs with 15 points (9-6-15) in nine games.
Though he is new to the Allan Cup chase, Dyck is not new to the pressure and the expectations of national championships. In two years with the U of A Golden Bears, he lead the team to the University Cup twice, winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship in 2014.
“Every night you go out and you know you can’t take a night off. You know when you’re the champion or the best team, teams are going to give you their best game, so it almost creates anxiety …,” said Dyck. “It’s something I’ve learned over the past few years how to deal with it and how to get the best out of myself when the pressure is on.”
The Generals took home three championship trophies on Sunday, one for league, one for provincials and the MacKenzie Cup, normally going to the champion between Alberta and B.C. to go with the Allan Cup berth — which is really the only trophy they are interested in.
The Generals fell in the Allan Cup semifinal in Dundas, Ont., last year. They now have three weeks to prepare for this year’s tournament in Clarenville, from April 13-18.
“Our goal to start is always the Allan Cup, (the celebration tonight) is subdued and under control and we still got a job to do,” said Tobler. “We’ve got a bit of a layoff here, we just got to make sure we take care of ourselves and give ourselves the best opportunity to represent the province.”