Tired Generals team relinquishes Allan Cup
Myles Bell led the team in goals with four at the Allan Cup tournament. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
The Lacombe Generals knew keeping a hold on the Allan Cup wouldn’t be easy, but the defending national champions didn’t do themselves too many favours en route to the tournament final.
Forced to play an extra, quarter-final game after dropping their second round-robin game 3-2, the Generals had little left in the tank by the time they reached the Allan Cup final, relinquishing the senior AAA championship to the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in a 7-4 loss.
Over the phone from Bouctouche, N.B. where the tournament was held, Generals Head Coach Curtis Austring said fatigue was the difference between the two teams.
“They’re a good hockey club, but they were fresh. Plain and simple,” he said. “They had quicker legs and played four games in six days while we played five in five. It’s a monumental difference at this stage.
“It was an extremely tough loss and a hard week.”
At first, momentum and adrenaline were on their side. Evan Oberg opened the scoring on a toe drag, putting it top shelf for the Generals 9:07 into the first period.
The lead was short lived, however, as Cataract Colin Circelli tied the game on the man advantage. Just five minutes later, the Cataracts were given a penalty shot, and Stuart Macrae made no mistake, putting the opposition up 2-1 in the first 20 minutes.
Macrae scored a second time just 13 seconds into the middle frame, and former General Matt Stefanishion extended the lead on a power play a minute later. Matt Bragg notched another power play goal at 3:29 before the Generals’ Eric Galbraith finally responded to make the game 5-2.
The Cataracts’ sixth goal came over halfway into the third period, before the Generals’ Chris Rauckman deflected an Ian Barteaux shot. Teegan Moore narrowed the Cataract lead to two goals three minutes later.
However, Macrae, with the hat trick, had the dagger, sealing the Generals’ fate with an empty-netter.
That goal, too, came on the power play.
“They pressed us hard. We were ready to go in the second period, but when they forechecked, we couldn’t handle it,” said Austring. “They scored a couple quick goals and that really took the wind out of our sails as far as an opportunity to come back.”
Penalty trouble, which plagued the team in the latter half of their season, also reared its head in the final. Lacombe racked up 39 penalty minutes, while their opponents were assessed 10 minutes. The Generals failed to make any of their opportunities with the man advantage count, but the Cataracts’ capitalized on four of eight attempts.
“We were hoping the (officials) would let us play some hockey…We thought there were some marginal calls, hockey plays and some of them were a bit frustrating,” said Austring.
“Penalties bit us a little bit, but the guys competed and gave everything they had this week. There’s a lot of positives to build off of. It just sucks right now that we didn’t get this win.”
Although they came up short of their ultimate goal, it’s hard to deny the success the team had in a season full of changes for the team.
“With as many new players and the turnover we had, to get to an Allan Cup final is a good achievement. To still play at an elite level and have the chance to win a national title is a pretty cool thing when you’re still working and paying taxes. To get the opportunity to move to a new city centre and have the run we did means a lot,” said Austring.
“To me, the guys did Lacombe proud. We didn’t like the result, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”
Three members of the Army drove the Generals’ equipment from Lacombe to Bouctouche, N.B. to save money on flying the equipment out…. By the time the Generals made it to the tournament, their GoFundMe page had raised $5,310… The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts’ win is just the third time in tournament history that a team from Newfoundland and Labrador took home the trophy, and a first in Cataracts’ history…The 2018 Allan Cup Tournament will be held in Rosetown, Saskatchewan.