Generals 4 Flyers 0
It’s been almost a year since the Bentley Generals lost to the Fort St. John Flyers in the Allan Cup final and it still doesn’t sit well with them.
So it was no surprise to see the Generals jump all over the Flyers in the opening game of the best-of-five McKenzie Cup senior AAA hockey playoff and cruise to a 4-0 win before a packed house at the Arena Thursday.
“We lost to them last year and that was unacceptable,” said Generals head coach Brian Sutter. “They’re the champions and we’re here to win. We know what we want and what we have to do to get it.”
Generals goaltender Scott Galenza agreed.
“This is payback from last year, they took something from us and we want it back,” he said.
Galenza finished with 21 saves with at least three of those on the spectacular side.
His best save came midway through the second period with the Generals holding a 3-0 lead when he went post to post to get a leg on a one-timer by Todd Alexander.
“That was at a crucial time of the game and they were starting to come on strong,” said Galenza. “You know a team like that will come hard no matter what the score and you have to be prepared to make the stops when you’re supposed to. I was just doing my part. Tonight was a total team effort.”
“Scotty played the way a goalie is supposed to play in the playoffs,” said Sutter. “Your goalie has to be your best player and he was tonight.”
In fact Sutter couldn’t think of anyone who wasn’t at the top of their game.
“There were no passengers, which is the way we want it,” he said. “We tried to prepare mentally for that. We practised for that and it paid off.”
The Generals jumped on the Flyers when Jason Lundmark’s point shot deflected past Fort St. John netminder Clayton Pool at 3:19 of the opening frame. Don Morrison made it 2-0 at 13:49 of the first period on the power play when his quick wrist shot from the right circle beat Pool high to the stick side.
The Generals used their speed and quickness to dominate the opening period, holding a 13-5 edge in shots. Even then Galenza had to make an outstanding save.
“That was kind of my fault,” he said. “I pushed the puck out right on his stick, so I had to make up for that.”
Darryl Laplante gave the Generals a 3-0 lead at 4:36 of the second period, beating Pool from in close high over his left shoulder while on the power play.
Paul Cabana finished the scoring on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box at 16:13 of the middle stanza.
Flyers coach Darrell Leahy felt his team wasn’t at their best, which could have been partly due to the fact they didn’t arrive in Red Deer until 3 a.m. Thursday.
“I don’t now if it was the bus ride or what, but we were a step behind for the first half of the game,” he said. “We got better as it went along, but we also took too many penalties and they have a pretty good power play. Our penalty kill wasn’t as good as normal either.
“We also didn’t get any bounces, but that happens when you’re a step behind.”
Both teams got caught up in the physical play and in the end the Flyers took 13 of 25 minor penalties and three of six misconducts.
“It was a good, tough hockey game,” said Sutter. “The teams played hard from whistle to whistle and when that happens people do things after the whistle and behind the play. I know we played hard and that’s when we’re at our best.
“I don’t think the referees are used to that kind of hockey and they have to be a little more on their toes than they were tonight.”
Galenza knows the Generals will have to be on their toes when the series resumes tonight at 7 p.m. at the Arena.
“They’ll come out harder than tonight and we have to be ready,” he said.
Leahy indicated he may make a couple of changes to the roster.
“We have five guys not dressed tonight and some of them will definitely be in tomorrow,” he said.
• The Generals finished with 34 shots on Pool . . . The third game goes Saturday with the fourth and fifth, if necessary, Sunday and Monday. All games are at 7 p.m.