The Lacombe Generals were a team on a mission to redeem themselves.
Shut out by the Stony Plain Eagles 3-0 Wednesday, the Generals bounced back with a 4-0 shutout of their own Friday in front of the hometown crowd at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
“It was very important for us to get some confidence back,” said Generals Head Coach Sean Robertson. “When you get shutout in a playoff game on the road, you have to do a bit of soul-searching. Our guys did that.”
In fact, it only took the Generals one period to match the 3-0 shutout the Eagles handed them Wednesday night. Midway through the first, Kyle Stroh cut across the middle and set up Levi Nelson to go top shelf. With five minutes left in the frame, Dylan Nowakowski banked the puck in off Eagle goaltender Kevin Nastiuk, and Jesse Todd chipped another past him shortly afterwards.
The second period was scoreless.
The third, however, saw plenty of action, as the Eagles looked to set the tone for Game 3, and flashes of many old series between the two ACHW rivals were on full display.
With about 11 minutes to go in the period, Kyle Sheen was handed four minutes for spearing after checking an opponent into the boards and from that point on, it was a rare moment when there was no one in the penalty box.
After Stroh finally capitalized on one of his many scoring chances throughout the game with 4:21 left to play, the game got even chippier.
Doug Jessey and Eagle Darcy Deroose were both handed 10 minute misconducts after Jessey took a late shot on net. Nowakowski was given two each for slashing and roughing with opponent Cody Hodgson, and then Eagle Sean Maktaak boarded Nelson, which resulted in General Captain Brennan Evans stepping in. Both Evans and Maktaak were handed five for fighting and game misconducts, as well as an additional two for instigating (Evans) and boarding (Maktaak).
The hit wasn’t one Robertson liked.
“From where I was sitting, I thought he was very vulnerable and I thought there was no need for it,” he said.
Fortunately, despite all the rough stuff, the team kept their opponents without a goal for the 4-0 win, not only taking a 2-1 series lead, but giving goaltender Tyler Weiman a 42-save shutout – his first with the team.
“It’s been an easier transition than I thought, but when you’re surrounded by good players and good coaches, you’re bound to succeed,” he said. “I’m still just trying to get my feet wet, but tonight was probably the most comfortable I’ve felt so far in the games.”
He credited his defence specifically for keeping pucks to the outside and traffic in front to a minimum for his success, as well as their communication. As for what they need to do heading into Game 3 Saturday on the road in Stony Plain?
“We’ve just got to keep it simple. Obviously, stay out of the box because they get a lot of momentum off that, but if we keep moving our feet and stay disciplined, I think we’ll be all right,” Weiman said.
“We’ve got to exorcise some demons. It’s been awhile since we’ve won up there. There’s no better time and hopefully we’ll close out the