Lacombe brothers aim to help Innisfail Eagles take flight in first Allan Cup

Innisfail Eagle Taylor Mulder, who hails from Lacombe, battles with Rosetown Red Wing Matt Delahey during the opening game of the 2019 Viking Projects Allan Cup on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex in Lacombe. Rosetown defeated Innisfail 4-3. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The Lacombe Generals might be the hometown team, but the hometown boys are playing for one of the opposition teams this week at the 2019 Viking Projects Allan Cup.

Brothers Blair, 27,  and Taylor Mulder,24, who grew up in the city, have been lacing up their skates for the Innisfail Eagles all year. Now, they’re part of a team that, for the first time in its 71-year history, will be making an appearance at the national senior championship tournament.

Speaking to media following their 7-4 aggregate loss to the Lacombe Generals at provincials, they’re determined to go all the way – and perhaps finally best their central Albertan rivals.

“For me and Blair, both being Lacombe boys, there’s a little bit of a chip on the shoulder. It’s your hometown team so it’d be nice to beat them,” said Taylor Mulder.

“Whether we see them or not…hopefully we beat ‘em if we do. Hopefully we go all the way,” Blair added.

Innisfail Eagle Blair Mulder collides with Lacombe General Eric Galbraith during Hockey Alberta Senior AAA provincial championship action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Sunday. March 31, 2019. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

Blair began playing with the East Central Chill Bantam AAA team in the AMBHL in 2006. In 2009, he made the AMHL’s Red Deer Rebels Midget AAA team, which was followed by an eight-game stint with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons before he moved onto the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL, where he played for three seasons – including 2012-13 where he served as an alternate captain. In 2013 he started playing in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) with the Red Deer College Kings.

His younger brother, Taylor, meanwhile played for the Red Deer Rebels White Bantam AAA team in 2009-10, then moved onto the Red Deer Northstar Chiefs Minor Midget team for a season. In 2011 he played for the Lacombe Rockets Midget AA team – and had a two game stint with his brother’s team in the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the AJHL. He then played a season with the Blackfalds Wranglers in the HJHL, and then moved on to the AJHL full time with the Lloydminster Bobcats. He also played two seasons for the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in the ACAC.

The hometown team never approached the two – an opportunity Generals staff admit they weren’t sure how they missed, but Blair had known a few guys skating with Innisfail that asked him to come try out, and so he did. He obviously impressed, as he’s now at the end of his second season with the team.

Taylor, on the other hand, wasn’t quite sure what to do after finishing his post-secondary hockey career, and decided to play with his brother for the first and only time since his two game call-up in 2011.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “I thought it’d be cool to play with my brother for a change…It’s easier for the parents. They only have to drive to one rink.”

Both are happy where they’ve ended up.

“Lacombe’s great – we grew up playing here and we can’t say enough good things about it – but I’m happy to be where we are. (Brian) Sutter’s treating us pretty good,” said Taylor. “Innisfail’s a great organization.”

“We wouldn’t have it any other way, to be honest,” Blair said. “We’ve done well this year as a team…We all had a goal to make the Allan Cup and we did, so now it’s just the next step.”

They’re guaranteed to have their fair share of fans in the stands, from parents and other family members , to the Eagles faithful that will make drive up the QEII.

“We’ve got friends cheering for Lacombe, but also for just us because they can’t be traitors for the hometown team,” Taylor said. “It’ll be a cool atmosphere to play in.”

The Mulder brothers played in the very first game of the Allan Cup tournament on Monday, April 8, against the Rosetown Redwings where they came up short in a 4-3 loss.

They’ll also face the reigning Allan Cup champions in the Stoney Creek Generals on April 9.