The Lacombe Senior Generals came out of the weekend with just two of the four points they were looking for in their home-and-home series with the Red Deer Rustlers.
After edging the Rustlers 2-1 in Lacombe Friday night, the team fell 8-6 during one of the featured Hometown Hockey games in Red Deer at Servus Arena – a game that had been close right up until the latter stages of the third period.
Jordan Koopmans, who has assumed the head coach position, said discipline was the difference.
“We really brought our A-game last night. It was a very physical, two-way game and we brought a lot of momentum into today, but unfortunately were were in the box a little too much tonight and that killed our momentum,” he said. “They had three power play goals and we gave them a lot more – thank goodness our penalty kill was as good as it was tonight, but we can’t sit in the box all night.”
The teams were fairly evenly matched for much of the game, however, and despite playing the night before, there was good energy on the ice from both teams. The Rustlers’ Jaret Smith would travel down the right side and find a gap in Generals goaltender Mackenzie Engel’s vertical-horizontal stance from the bottom of the circle to open the scoring. Just 57 seconds later, Kyle Sheen would beat Rustler netminder Mike Salmon to tie the game.
It wouldn’t be until the end of the period when the Generals were down 5-on-3 that Connor Patchett would score through traffic to give Red Deer a 2-1 lead heading into the dressing room, with shots on goal 16-12 in favour of the Rustlers.
Just 39 seconds into the second frame, Chance Abbott would tie the game from the top of the circle. Jason Lundmark would respond several minutes later for Red Deer, but this time their lead would be short lived as Sheen would score his second of the game on the powerplay catching Salmon flat on the ice during a scramble in front of the net.
The scoring wouldn’t stop for either team, as Kyle Pess sent a puck dribbling past Engel.
Kyle Pess sent a puck dribbling past Engel, but Sheen would score his hat trick goal, tipping in a Blair Mulder shot from the point to even the score.
“It was nice – I’m finally starting to feel better. It’s been awhile since I’ve played some hockey, so I’m starting to get back into it and feel more and more like myself and getting to play with guys like Scott Doucet and Chance Abbott – it just makes my job that much easier. Playing with skilled guys like that is not hard to do,” Sheen said.
By the end of the period, shots on goal would be even as well at 22 apiece.
Jordan Ramstead sent a puck through the pads of Salmon early in the third to give the Generals their first lead in the game, however, it would be their only lead of the game as Rylan Plante-Crough responded for the Rustlers. Josh Smith, however, was handed a double minor for high sticking and while the Generals killed the first three minutes, with just 56 seconds left with the disadvantage, Dylan Houston returned the lead to Red Deer and any momentum Lacombe had was gone.
Patchett would score again to get the go-ahead goal with under five left in the game. While the Generals would pull within one right after, pulling the goalie didn’t work in their favour, and Tyler Berkholtz put the game away for the Rustlers with the empty netter.
“I think there were just some missed opportunities on our part and we gave them too many chances. They’re a good hockey club and when you give a good hockey club that many chances like that, it’s going to end up biting you in the butt,” said Sheen.
“If we’re always going to the box and our killers are spending all night killing (penalties), it’s not really good for them…They’re tired and it doesn’t help anybody else. It really breaks up the rhythm of the game.”
The team will have a week to regroup, with their next game scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 when they will host the NCHL’s top team in the Morinville Kings, who have just a single overtime loss, and no regulation losses, this season.
“They’re a fast skating team and they’re really strong offensively, so we’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Koopmans. “It’s anybody’s game.”
“We know what they’re all about,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. Every Wednesday we’re working hard and we’re getting better and better every week. We’re just going to have to keep clawing our way up the standings.”
Puck drop is at 8 p.m. at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
Generals handover ceremony
The AA Generals will also officially receive the former AAA Generals dressing room in the rescheduled handover ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 4.
The AAA Lacombe Generals withdrew from the Allan Cup Hockey West (ACHW) in the spring after winning their fourth Allan Cup championship. The team cited a lack of other teams to play after the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs and Rosetown Redwings also left the league last year.
Sheen, who has now played with both versions of the Generals said another team coming in to carry on the Generals’ legacy was good for the community.
“I think it’s great for the (City) of Lacombe. The last two and a half years playing with the AAA team, you really saw the support and the love for the game that town has. For Jared Williams and Reed Watts to put the effort into moving this team into Lacombe to not only continue the tradition but give the City of Lacombe some good hockey is wonderful,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous support in the past and so far this year we’re getting good crowds. Hopefully we can continue to build off that and get more people out.”
While Sheen is now on the AA roster, he says come Allan Cup championship time he may look at going back to the AAA level, but it would require a change in jersey.
“There’s always that chance – I’d just have to play for the ‘enemy’ now. I’ve been in talks with Innisfail a little bit – I haven’t ruled out playing for them this year,” he said, noting he’s been in contact with the Innisfail Eagles’ Ryan Dodd. “They’re really going to push for it this year and make a good run at it – it very well could be the last year of the Allan Cup ever.
“Playing with the Generals for so long, it’s definitely something very special.”
The full story on the handover will be on www.lacombeglobe.com Wednesday night, however, as the event will post-press time, it will be in the Dec. 12 edition of the Lacombe Globe.