Generals end regular season on high note
Ian Barteaux of the Lacombe Generals (second from left) celebrates with teammates Collin Valcourt, No. 14, Dylan Nowakowski, No. 42, and Brennan Evans, No. 44 after scoring a goal and the eventual game winner against the Innisfail Eagles during third period Allan Cup Hockey West league action on Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
On a weekend where the spotlight was on hockey in Lacombe, the Lacombe Generals did their best to showcase some of the best hockey the city has to offer.
Dominating the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs 8-0 on Saturday night, their offensive prowess was on full display, but on Sunday morning, it was their grit and work ethic that put them ahead 2-1 over their Innisfail Eagle rivals at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
“I think we got rewarded for a good, solid effort,” said Generals Head Coach Sean Robertson.
“We were on our heels a little bit in the second, and then for us to regroup in the third and win a hockey game like that – we haven’t’ had to do that very often this year. It was very important we got some tangible evidence that it shows when you play the right way, good things happen.”
After a scoreless first period, it was Kyle Bailey who opened the scoring in the second. About six minutes later, the Innisfail Eagles got it back on a Geoff Rollins goal.
Ian Barteaux was the difference maker, finding mesh behind General turncoat and current Eagle netminder Kraymer Barnstable.
“When you keep going around the o-zone – around and around – something opens up. It’s never a bad idea to put it on net. We were going glove side all game so I decided to change it up and went blocker and it went in. Lucky me,” said Barteaux.
The game winner came in front of a larger and louder crowd than the Generals have seen all year, and coaches and players alike commented it added a bit more of a playoff atmosphere to the game.
“It was excellent. They were excited. You look around and the rink’s full and it’s loud, we had lots of kids around – that’s important. That’s part of us giving back to this community. We try to put a good product on the ice and have these kids support us and watch good hockey and grow up obviously wanting to play in the NHL on day,” said Robertson.
“I think Hometown Hockey definitely brought the people out,” said Barteaux. “It’s kind of a special event, especially for us. We don’t get to do this very often anymore. To have the lights and cameras, it’s a little bit of nostalgia for us. For the fans, it’s just a little more excitement.”
The Generals will now take on the Stony Plain Eagles on Friday at home to decide who will take on the Rosetown Redwings for the Allan Cup Hockey West league championship on Saturday. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
While there’s some players dealing with injuries, and a few that may be set to return for the playoffs, the Generals will have to enter the league championships and post-season without Captain Don Morrison on the ice.
Morrison suffered a neck fracture in mid-January after an unfortunate hit. He underwent surgery and is expected to recover, however, Robertson confirmed Morrison will be hanging up his skates.
“It’s tragic that he’s not going to play ever again. That’s hard to swallow,” he said. “He’s positive reinforcement for our hockey club and he’s got a positive outlook on things.
“He’s still our captain.”
Regardless of how the league championship ends up, the Generals will be back in action on the road Feb. 18 to take on the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs in a best-of-seven provincial semifinal round matchup.
Games are as follows:
• Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the JRC Arena
• Monday, Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex
• Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex
• Sunday, Feb. 25 at 2:15 p.m. at the JRC Arena
• Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex*
• Saturday, March 3 at 8:15 p.m. at the JRC Arena
• Sunday, March 4 at 5 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex*
* If needed.