An early first period lapse and a hot goaltender saw the Lacombe Generals fall in their first game back after the Christmas break.
On Saturday, they fell 4-3 to the Allan Cup Hockey West league’s first-placed Rosetown Redwings, despite controlling much of the game and firing 62 shots on net to their opponents’ 23.
“I think we started the game well – the first five or six minutes we were all over them,” said Generals veteran forward Brennan Evans. “Then we made a couple mistakes and they buried them.
“It’s something we’ve been preaching is getting used to that one game mentality where we can’t have those lapses. That’s what bit us tonight.”
The Generals came out strong to start the first period, and had already fired several shots on net in the first minute of the game, when a puck sent back to the blueline was picked up by Redwing Kyle Ireland, who carried the puck down ice and beat goalie Mike Salmon on a breakaway.
Then, towards the end of the period, the Generals found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble, and Brent Baltus capitalized for the Redwings to give his team a 2-0 lead, and just a few minutes later, added his second of the game just as a penalty to General Dylan Nowakowski expired.
Heading into the second period with a 3-0 deficit, the Generals were looking to tie the game. Two minutes in, it looked like they might be on their way to doing just that when Nowakowski scored, but it soon became clear that Redwing netminder Brody Hoffman wasn’t about to allow the Generals another goal if he could help it. Hoffman turned away 27 shots, while his team mustered just five against the Generals.
The Redwings, however, would still find a way to capitalize midway through the period, as Carson Grolla forced Salmon to make a cross-crease save that ultimately left him out of position to stop a rebound from Ireland from going in the net, and once again putting the Generals down three goals.
The third period had better results. Just over three minutes in, Giffen Nyren cut the Redwings’ lead to 4-2. Kyle Ross, playing in just his third game with the Generals, scored through traffic to bring the Generals within one.
Despite throwing puck after puck towards the net, however, the Generals weren’t able to beat Hoffman a fourth time, and fell 4-3.
“You look at the things that cost you a game, and tonight it was we had a stretch of 10 minutes, but other than that we played well. That happens – you get a really hot goalie, he makes some saves, some pucks hit him and we had some chances we couldn’t put in,” said Evans. “Overall, I think we’re happy, but there’s some things we can take away from it.”
Among them, he says, is finding ways to bury goals on hot goaltenders who won’t give up too much, such as getting traffic out front.
“The teams that are going to come here for Allan Cup are all going to have good goalies, so maybe we need to get creative with how to score some goals and definitely eliminate the mistakes that we made,” he said.
The Generals were also scheduled to play the Stony Plain Eagles on Sunday, however forfeit the game. Head Coach Sean Robertson said the late game time meant players wouldn’t get home at a reasonable time to be able to start the work week, and as of Saturday, he didn’t even have 10 players able to make the game and so making the trip for a game that would’ve surely resulted in a loss anyway wasn’t worth it.
Coming out of the weekend with zero of a possible four points, the Generals have still managed to keep a hold on second place in the standings – three points back of Rosetown, and three points ahead of Stony Plain.
The Army’s next game will see them march against the Innisfail Eagles on the road Friday, Jan. 18 at 8:30 p.m. at the Innisfail Twin Arena.
They’ll return home to host Innisfail Wed. Jan. 23 at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.