Generals 5 Eagles 1
Patience is one of the Bentley Generals’ many virtues.
Facing a hot goaltender and a desperate team in the Stony Plain Eagles, the Generals had to grind out a win on Monday before close to 1,000 fans at the Red Deer Arena, finally sealing the deal with a pair of late goals.
“That’s why we play 60 minutes,” said Generals head coach Brian Sutter, following a 5-1 victory that gave his club a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven provincial senior AAA hockey semifinal.
“We talk about it all the time — about how if it takes 60 minutes (to win), it takes 60 minutes.”
Bentley led 1-0 after one period and 2-1 after 40 minutes on goals from Tyler Haarstad and Davis Claffey.
Donald Morrison beat Eagles netminder Cody Rudkowsky to the top corner at 4:48 of the final frame to give the Generals some breathing space, and Claffey — one-timing a centering pass from Darryl LaPlante for his second of the game — and Brandin Cote, on a wrap-around, connected in the final two minutes and change.
Clem Arsenault notched the lone Stony Plain goal, tipping Kyle Rossiter’s power-play point shot past netminder Scott Galenza at 11:52 of the second period and pulling the visitors even at one.
Rudkowsky turned aside 40 shots, while Galenza made 27 saves.
“We had our ups and downs today and it took us a while to get going,” said Claffey. “We have good leadership in the room. Guys like (captain) Sean Robertson got us going and it was important for us to get things turned around.”
Sutter praised the Eagles for turning in an inspired performance.
“They played hard. I admire how they played,” said the Bentley bench boss. “We wanted to play with the same desperation and urgency even though we were up 2-0 in the series. The third game in any series is always the most important one, just like the third goal in every game is the most important goal, which was the case again today.
“We had guys turn it up today and that’s what you have to do at this time of the year. We know that nothing comes easy in the playoffs, that it gets tougher every game.”
Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Stony Plain.
“These games really work as far as getting us into shape, but it would be nice to get this series over with right away and get in some more practices and fine-tuning for the next series,” said Claffey.
The Generals opened the semifinal with an 8-3 home-ice win on Friday, then blanked the Eagles 3-0 on Saturday at Stony Plain, where Paul Cabana, Tyler Haarstad and Jason Lundmark provided the goals and Galenza 21 stopped shots for the shutout. Rudkowsy made 38 saves for the hosts.
• The Generals have added forward Braden Appleby to their lineup. The former WHL player (Lethbridge, Vancouver, Regina) who last skated with the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs two years ago, appeared in his second game with Bentley on Monday.
• Fort Saskatchewan will host the Sylvan Lake Admirals tonight in the second game of the other senior AAA provincial semifinal.
The Chiefs won the series opener 4-1 on Saturday at Sylvan Lake, getting goals from Richard Kelly, Corey Rutt, Blair Manning and Geoff Kilburn. Ryan Carter scored for the Admirals.
David Tetrault made 20 saves as the winning goalie. Steve Wagner blocked 30 shots in the Admirals net.
• The Generals were prevalent in the Chinook Hockey League all-star teams that were announced Monday, placing five players on the first team and two more on the second squad.
Voted to the first team were Galenza, Lundmark and fellow defenceman Joe Vandermeer, and forwards Robertson and Travis Brigley, the league scoring champion. Morrison and forward Curtis Austring were named to the second team.
The other first-team all-star is Fort Saskatchewan forward Bryan Forslund. Also on the second team are Tetrault, Stony Plain rearguard Joel Andresen and forwards Mike Hurley of Fort Saskatchewan and Ryan Kallis of the Innisfail Eagles.