The Lacombe Generals went 1-1 during the Allan Cup Hockey West (ACHW) preseason tournament held at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex this past weekend.
After a “humbling” 8-1 loss against the Red Deer College Kings to open the tournament last Wednesday, the Generals rebounded against the Redwings with a 3-2 victory Saturday.
It was by no means a perfect win, but one the Generals hope to build on heading into the regular season, en route to a hopeful Allan Cup championship next April.
“There’s still quite a bit of rust, but for the most part we put together a pretty good 60 minutes,” said returning Generals defenceman and game-winning goal scorer Ian Barteaux. “Our compete level and our effort, for the start of the season, was quite good. The skills and the little things will come as the season progresses.”
The Generals came out of the gate seemingly determined to put the 8-1 route at the hands of the Kings behind them. They controlled much of the play, and in the latter half of the first period it paid off as defenceman Tanner Korchinski clapped home the first goal of the game to give “the Army” a 1-0 lead.
While the Generals maintained possession for the majority of the game, it was the Redwings who found the back of the net next, with two quick goals from Kyle Ireland and Brayden Atkinson in the second period.
The Redwings lead, however, was short lived.
Generals newcomer Jeremy Beirnes, who spent the last three seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League in the U.S., caught Redwings netminder Hoffman out of position, evening the game at two goals each heading into the third period, where Barteaux shot through a screen to secure the Generals the 3-2 win.
“It was nice. I had it tee’d up pretty close in – it’s always nice to score,” he said of the goal. “It was even better it was the game winner, but it was just about getting pucks on net.”
The preseason tournament was mostly about working on getting the team into game shape ahead of the regular season. Given an automatic berth at the Allan Cup as the host team, the Generals have a little more flexibility this year to experiment and work on really fine tuning their game throughout the year, rather than putting additional pressure on themselves and worrying about securing a spot in the postseason.
Perennial participants at the senior men’s national tournament, the team has seen a lot of success since its inception in 1999 – three titles, nine finals appearances, and 12 tournament appearances. However, they fell short of the championship the past two seasons and are now looking to make sure they don’t fail to lay claim to the national title once more.
The key, Barteaux believes, to winning that championship on home ice will be conditioning.
“We kind of preach about conditioning – it’s almost like cheating in this league because guys have families, other occupations and responsibilities besides training year round,” he said. “If we can get to the gym and get to practices on Wednesdays I think that’ll help put us in a much better spot physically, as well as strategically going into the Allan Cup.”
The Generals will officially kick-off the regular season with their home opener Oct. 12 against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.
For the full season schedule, visit www.generalshockey.ca.