Generals back in front

It didn’t take long for the Bentley Generals to regain their momentum in the McKenzie Cup senior AAA hockey series against the Fort St. John Flyers.

Bentley General Ryan Manitowich gets past Fort St. John Flyers Rod Stevens

Generals 3 Flyers 1

It didn’t take long for the Bentley Generals to regain their momentum in the McKenzie Cup senior AAA hockey series against the Fort St. John Flyers.

A day after looking very ordinary in a 6-3 loss to the Flyers, the Generals turned in a much more inspired performance in recording a 3-1 victory before over 1,800 fans at the Arena Saturday.

The win gave the Generals a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Alberta/B.C. playoff series with Game 4 tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Arena. If a fifth game is necessary it goes Monday, also at 7:30 p.m.

“Last night (Friday) we got away from our game and were embarrassed by a good team over there,” said Generals high-scoring forward Curtis Austring.

“Tonight we came back with a little more emotion, a little more passion and a little more determination.”

“We certainly weren’t happy with ourselves last night,” added Generals head coach Brian Sutter. “We prepared to play, but tonight we prepared to win and there is a difference.”

The Generals were involved all evening and as a result the breaks went their way.

Two of their goals — Austring’s marker at 11:10 of the first period and Kurt Bensmiller’s goal at 11:04 of the second frame — were both a bit fortunate.

Austring had Brett Thurston’s point shot deflect off his stick while Bensmiller had Ryan Manitowich’s pass go in off his body.

Austring’s goal came just 28 seconds after Rod Stevens opened the scoring for the Flyers on a shot from the right wing that goaltender Scott Galenza just got a piece of.

“To come back right after they score was a real boost to our bench and deflated their bench as they definitely has some momentum,” said Austring. “Kudos to (Sean) Robertson for making a great play in traffic and getting the puck back to Thurston. I turned at the right time and had it hit me. It was going so slow I just watched it go in.

“It wasn’t pretty, but there’s no pictures on the scoresheet.”

Sutter wasn’t worried about how the goals went in.

“When you look at the scoresheet all you remember was who won the game and that someone scored.”

Austring also notched the insurance marker, converting a rebound with just 0.6 seconds remaining in the second period.

“I was just hoping and praying the buzzer wouldn’t go,” he said. “I knew the puck was coming out to me and I just shot it as hard as I could. I got it up as I knew the goalie (Troy Hunt) was stacking his pads.”

The game was a physical affair with both teams handing our their share of hits.

“It’s playoff hockey,” said Austring. “They’re trying to get under our skin and we’re trying to do the same with them.”

Flyers assistant coach Kip Noble agreed.

“It is playoff hockey and you expect it,” he said.

Noble did admit the Generals had an excellent game plan.

“They did a good job of keeping us to the perimeter, something we did to them last night. They were also strong in front of the net. I didn’t think we played poorly and we’re certainly not out of this.”

The Generals finished with 39 shots on Hunt while Galenza, who was making his first start in the series, made 26 saves. One of his best efforts came with under three minutes remaining in the game, when he got a leg on a labeled drive.

“You don’t like to see that first goal, but he showed a lot of nerve and character and was good after that,” said Sutter.

Contact Danny Rode at drode@bprda.wpengine.com

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