CLARENVILLE, Nfld. — The Bentley Generals haven’t trailed too often during the 2014-15 hockey season, especially late.
So when the host Clarenville Caribous got a go-ahead goal from hometown product Dustin Russell at 6:06 of the third period in Allan Cup tournament play Tuesday, the Generals were in — for the most part — unfamiliar territory.
Not that it mattered, however, as the Alberta senior AAA hockey champions sniped a pair of goals down the stretch to pull out a 3-2 win in their first game of the six-day event. Cam Maclise cashed in a rebound from a shot that came off the glass to pull the Gens even at 13:46 of the final frame, and Torrie Dyck potted the winner just under two minutes later.
“It was a really good hockey game, for both sides,” said Bentley head coach Ryan Tobler. “There wasn’t a lot of room out there, you had to work for everything you got.
“This was one of the best senior games I’ve seen as a coach, for sure, and everyone on our (coaching) staff agreed. It was a good start for us and a good test.”
The Generals twice battled back from a single-goal deficit, with Taggart Desmet notching the other Bentley goal and Stuart MacRae sniping the first Clarenville marker. Tobler was particularly impressed with his club’s third-period revival.
“We went down 2-1 in the third and answered the right way,” said the Bentley bench boss. “I’m proud of the way the guys just battled. They were resilient and they stuck with it.”
Dustin Butler turned aside 33 shots for the win, while Caribous netminder Jason Churchill made 34 saves.
The game attracted an overflow and mostly partisan crowd of close to 1,800.
“A great building with a great atmosphere . . . they’ve done a great job (with hosting),” said Tobler. “They packed the place to the rafters and had a good contingent of fans, but so did we.
“There were some cheers in the stands when we scored, which was great to hear. It’s great that we have some of our fans here.”
Bentley was zero-for-three on the power play; the Caribous zero-for-five.
With the loss, the host Caribous dropped to 1-1 in the six-team, two-pool competition. The Generals can finish pool play with a 2-0 mark and earn an automatic berth in Friday’s semifinals with a win today over the Lameque Au P’tit Mousse of New Brunswick, who fell 5-1 to Clarenville Monday.
“Nothing for granted, but I think we’ll probably be a little bit better tomorrow, considering we were off three to three and a half weeks before tonight’s game” said Tobler. “We’ll be ready tomorrow and try and earn that day off.”
The second- and third-place teams in each pool will meet in cross-over quarter-final play Thursday, with the winners meeting the first-place teams in the semifinals.
In Tuesday’s other contest, the Southeast Prairie Thunder of Manitoba slipped past the Ontario champion and defending Allan Cup champs Dundas Real McCoys 4-3 in their first game.
Grand Falls-Windsor, Nfld., is also 1-0 after defeating Dundas 5-3 Monday.