The Lacombe Generals joined the Rosetown Red Wings atop the Allan Cup Hockey West league after toppling their opponents 4-2 Saturday at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
The Generals picked up two crucial points against the very Red Wings they’re trying to overtake in the standings, aided by a full, 60-minute effort they’ve been working towards for much of the season.
“It was good,” said Generals forward Levi Nelson, who had two points on the night, including the game-winning goal. “Obviously, over the last little bit – ever since Christmas – our focus has been having a better start, and I think the last couple game are a good example of focusing on our start and getting our legs going and into the game.”
Both teams were fairly evenly matched throughout the first two periods. While they came out of the first period scoreless, the second saw them trade goals.
About five minutes into the middle frame, Red Wing Kyle Ireland beat Generals goaltender and newcomer Tyler Weiman, playing in just his second game for the team. Just 72 seconds afterwards, however, Brennan Evans tied it at the other end of the ice, followed by a Kyle Ross goal a minute later to put the home team ahead 2-1. Offence would quiet for a few minutes, until Micheal Clarke would beat Weiman low glove side to tie the game.
It was a different story in the third, with the Generals taking over possession. Midway through, Nelson caught a sprawling Brody Hoffman out of position. Steven Phee then scored the insurance goal from the top of the circle to secure the 4-2 win.
“We just said in the room to stick to the game plan, do the little things, do the right things and if (we) do that, in the end it’s going to pay off and that’s what happened,” he said.
“They’re a good team over there. No game is going to be easy in this league and it took the full 60, but we got the two points.”
The Generals received a little help on Sunday as well, as the Innisfail Eagles shutout the Red Wings 3-0, keeping them tied with Rosetown for top spot until both teams wrap the regular season next weekend.
The Generals will host just one more home game on Friday, Feb. 1 against the 6-9-0-1 Stony Plain Eagles. The Generals were forced to forfeit their last matchup as the Eagles refused to adjust game time to accommodate for Generals players needing to travel home ahead of the work week. They will then hit the road and face the Red Wings Feb. 2 one last time before playoffs begin.
As for what the Generals need to be successful heading towards the postseason, Nelson said it’s just showing up ready to play and putting in those 60-minute efforts.
“Our starts are going to be a big thing come playoffs. If we’re showing up that first period ready to play and do that for three periods, I think we’ll be successful,” he said.
Playoffs begin Feb. 6. Schedule to come.