The Lacombe Generals are on a mission to bring the Allan Cup home for the first time since moving to the city in 2016 as the reigning national champions.
Relinquishing their hold on the national title to the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in a 7-4 final loss last year – fatigue getting the best of them after five games in five nights – the team failed to give their new digs the christening they wanted.
This year, they hope to make up for that – not that they’re getting ahead of themselves just yet.
“The practice tempo is a little intense,” said Generals forward Keenan Desmet. “We’re just trying to get everyone loose and on the same page going into the week. The coaching staff is doing a good job of getting a game plan together to do the right things and hopefully get us to that Saturday night game.”
The Generals are a near-perennial success story, having won three national titles, and making it to the tournament 10 times in the past 11 years. It came as little surprise they’d be making their 11th appearance this season, but while they might look like the team to beat on paper, they’re playing the underdog.
There’s hope. There’s “if,” but not “when” while talking about the possibility of an Allan Cup final appearance at the tournament in Rosetown, Sask. next week.
It’s perhaps understandable, considering four of the Generals six losses this season came at the hands of the hgs, who they’ll open the tournament against April 10. It will be the first meeting between the two teams sinost Redwince the Generals defeated them in the league final.
Special teams, Desmet says, could be the difference between who comes out of the game victorious.
“Their power play is deadly,” he said. “They don’t back down – they keep pushing and pushing. If we have a 5-10 minute let down, they can score a lot of goals in a short period of time so we have to keep the pedal to the metal. We’ve got to stay out of the box.”
The same goes for the Stoney Creek Generals, who they’ll play April 11. Wins against both teams during round-robin play will give Lacombe a quarter-final bye, meaning an extra day of rest before taking the ice in the playoff rounds.
But, they’ll still take the tournament one game at a time.
“We want to put ourselves in a good position where we don’t have to play Thursday and can give ourselves a bit of a rest,” he said.
“We’ll get a good test right off the bat, but I think we’re up to the challenge and hopefully we can grind them down through the full 60 and overcome their skill.”
Both round robin games will be played at 8 p.m.
For more information on the Allan Cup 2018 tournament and the full schedule visit www.allancup.ca.