Lacombe AA Generals capture first win under new name over Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs

Kyle Maas of the Lacombe AA Generals pursues a rebound in front of Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs goaltender Eric Szudor during NCHL action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Generals won 4-2. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The now Lacombe AA Generals are back in the win column.

On Saturday, the team doubled up on the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs 4-2 in North Central Hockey League (NCHL) action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex, earning their first win with their new name, slightly improving their record to 2-5-0-0 on the season.

“It’s definitely good to get in the win column,” said coach Jordan Koopmans. “We had a few losses there, so I think this is a nice stepping stone in building to a big home-and-home with Red Deer next weekend.”

With both the Generals and Pontiacs separated by a single point in the standings, it didn’t take long for the offence to start, with Pontiac Denis Cadrin finding the back of the net just over two minutes into the game. The Generals would respond 52 seconds later, however, as Scott Doucet beat goaltender Eric Szudor to even the score.

Teams would trade chances, but both goaltenders kept the tied until there was just 4:30 left to play in the opening frame, when Kyle Maas would give the home team a 2-1 lead.

Courage Omeasoo of the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs beats Lacombe Generals’ goaltender Mackenzie Engel to tie the game in second period NCHL action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Generals would respond 19 seconds after to retake the lead en route to a 4-2 victory. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

The second period once again saw a quick offensive start with the Pontiacs’ Courage Omeasoo catching General goaltender Mackenzie Engel going cross-crease and beating him glove-side to tie the game once more.

The tie, however, would last all of 19 seconds as on the very next play Arseni Oursov made his way down the ice to score what would be the eventual game-winner.

“I got a pretty lucky one there – I was pretty surprised that he dished the puck out to me, but I’ll take that as a goal,” Oursov said. “It was a big win for us. I thought we played really well and had a good game back after a loss last weekend. We’ve just got to keep putting wins together and building on momentum.”

Jordan Ramstead would score the insurance goal, deflecting the puck over Szudor’s pads on the power play with 4:15 left in the second.

While the Pontiacs tried to tie the game again in the third, at times hemming the Generals in their own end, no more goals would be scored in the game, and Engel would make 34 saves in the win, while shots favoured the Generals 47-36.

“Macker has been keeping us in games this year – both our goalies have been unbelievable,” said Oursov. “We need to do a better job in the defensive zone to help him out but he played great and we’ll take this as a big positive,” said Oursov.”

The AA Generals will now take on the Red Deer Rustlers in a home-and-home series next weekend, including a Nov, 29 tilt at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex at 8:45 p.m. They will also play Nov. 30 at 8:15 p.m. in Red Deer at Servus Arena during Hometown Hockey festivities. Red Deer is currently in a three-way tie for third in the NCHL standings with a record of 4-3-0-0.

Oursov says the key will be getting pucks in deep, while Koopmans says they’ve got to work on their defensive side.

“We’ve got a big test with Red Deer. I think our powerplay is rolling, our offence is really good – we’ve just gotta tighten up that d-zone so that we’re not giving up odd-man rushes,” said Koopmans.

“We can’t really afford to give up any games at this point if we want to be back in the standings where we should be. It was nice to get a win tonight and we’ll roll that momentum into next weekend.”

The Pontiacs, meanwhile, now head to Blackfalds to take on the Wranglers in Blackfalds at the Multi-plex Arena on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3:30 p.m.

Kyle Maas of the Lacombe AA Generals battles with Steven Knoblauch of the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs during NCHL action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Generals won 4-2. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

Kyle Sheen of the Lacombe AA Generals is pursued by Lucas Isley along the boards during NCHL action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Generals won 4-2. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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