Generals take down Caribous

The Bentley Generals, with Diarmuid Kelly recording a hat trick, turned in a big-time bounce-back performance Wednesday night.

Generals 7 Caribous 2

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Bentley Generals, with Diarmuid Kelly recording a hat trick, turned in a big-time bounce-back performance Wednesday night.

The defending champion Generals, idle since dropping their Allan Cup opener 7-1 to the host Fort St. John Flyers Monday, crushed the Clarenville, Nfld., Cougars 7-2 to finish second in Division 2 of the six-team, Canadian senior AAA hockey championship tournament.

“We were just more prepared tonight. We really upped the intensity level and when you play more intense you skate better and are more physical, and we were both tonight,” said Generals assistant coach Jason Lenz. “There was just a greater sense of urgency and that came out in spades.”

Bentley will take on the Powell River, B.C., Regals in a quarter-final tonight at 9 p.m. (MDT). The Regals finished third in Division 1 following a 4-4 overtime tie with the first-place Dundas, Ont., Real McCoys Wednesday afternoon.

The Southeast Prairie Thunder of Manitoba placed second in Division 1 and will face the Caribous, who were third in Division 2, in the other quarter-final at 3 p.m. The winners will face the Real McCoys and the Flyers in Friday’s semifinals, which will precede the championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday (TSN2).

The Generals led 3-0 after one period on goals by Tyler Haarstad, Sean Robertson and Diarmuid Kelly, and never looked back.

“The guys drove to the net a lot better tonight and when you do that you create opportunities off rebounds,” said Lenz. “We had some big bodies going to the net and got some greasy goals.”

The Caribous got one back when Chris Peach beat netminder Jordan Alford 34 seconds into the middle frame, but Kelly potted his second goal of the game three minutes later and Travis Brigley extended Bentley’s lead to 5-1 with a power-play marker shortly after.

Mitch Oake cut the deficit to three with a goal at 4:58 of the third period. However, Bentley’s Jon Hobson notched a short-handed goal at 12:23 and Kelly fired his third at 16:44 to round out the scoring.

Alford was busy, turning aside 38 shots as the Generals were assessed 16 of 28 minor penalties. Jason Churchill made 36 saves for the Caribous.

“Alford played well,” said Lenz. “On their first goal he misplayed a long shot and when the puck bounced behind our net and came out the other side, their guy (Peach) put it upstairs on him. But that was the only one he wanted to have back. The other goal was no fault of his at all.”

After Wednesday’s win, the Generals will head into tonight’s quarter-final with a killer instinct, Lenz predicted.

“You could sense in the room before the game that there was a lot better focus than was the case Monday,” he said. “The guys were a lot more determined and played with a lot more purpose. And positionally, we were much better than we were in the first game.”

l In the afternoon contest, Bobby Russell and Cal Benazic each tallied twice for the Regals, while Dan Pitre had a pair of goals for the Real McCoys.