Already pitching a shutout, Dan Bakala took it one step further Monday night at a packed Red Deer Arena.
With the Bentley Generals clinging to a late 1-0 lead, Bakala steadied a puck in front of the net and lifted the rubber over oncoming traffic, all the way down the ice and into the vacated Rosetown Redwings goal to seal a 2-0 win in the Allan Cup opener for both teams.
“They dumped it in straight on me and I had enough time to . . . I was just trying to get it out, I didn’t even know they’d pulled their goalie (Kelly Guard),” said Bakala, who turned aside all 21 shots he faced and whose goal came at the 18:53 mark of the third period.
“I just took it, tried to save some time and make them (Redwings) regroup and all I heard was people yelling and, yeah, she curled in (to the Rosetown goal). I was just hoping to get it on net and make them break out again. That was my first goal ever. I didn’t even know what to do.”
The clubs battled through two scoreless periods before Jeremy Colliton notched what proved to be the winner, his power-play shot from along the goal line deflecting off the skate of Guard and in at 8:32 of the final frame.
The Generals directed 26 shots at Guard, not including hit posts by Scott Doucet and Matt Stefanishion in the third period. In addition, Generals forward Trent Hunter wired a shot over the net from excellent scoring range — roughly 12 feet out.
While Guard was good, Bakala was just a tad better and obviously had a superior scoring touch.
“I really didn’t get tested. Our defencemen kept everything on the outside. It was easy for everyone to play tonight,” said the Generals stopper.
The game was vital in the sense that the Generals can advance directly to Friday’s semifinals with a win over the Kenora Thistles tonight.
“It was big,” said Bakala. “We all had some jitters early, we were all a little nervous. These guys (Redwings) are a good team and that first period kind of showed we were a little hesitant to make some plays, but once we started rolling it got a little easier for us.”
The Generals were outshot 5-3 in the opening frame, then started to set the pace though the latter half of the second period.
“I didn’t think our first period was bad by any means,” said Bentley head coach Brandin Cote. “I think both teams were in a feeling-out process early in the game. No one wanted to make the first mistake. It was kind of a chess match to start.
“Then as the game went on we got back to the kind of way we want to play in terms of being aggressive on the forecheck. It was just a matter of staying with it. It was a great team effort tonight, a very close game and that’s what you’re going to get in a tournament like this.
“Rosetown is a competitive team. Give them credit, they battled hard. We just ended up playing a little better at the end of the day. We’re happy with where we’re at. Now we just have to move on and get ready and refocused for Kenora.”