BY ZACHARY CORMIER
A week has passed, but it’s still the same story for the Lacombe Generals and the Stony Plain Eagles.
After splitting the first two games of the best of seven Chinook Hockey League final last week, the back and forth trend of the 2017 Alberta Senior Men’s AAA provincial series continued for the Eagles and Generals, who continued to trade blows in games three and four of their best of seven championship series on Friday and Saturday.
With the tension building in the tightly-contested Allan Cup qualifier, the Eagles made their return to Lacombe’s Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on Friday night to pick up a huge 7-4 victory over the defending Allan Cup Champions.
“I thought we had spurts of effort and what have you, but at the end of the day I think they just wanted it more than we did tonight,” said Generals’ Head Coach Curtis Austring after the loss, which stemmed from a third period collapse.
The game didn’t get off to a great start for the home side. Midway through the opening frame the Eagles’ Colton Hayes notched the first goal of the game.
Three minutes later, the visitors extended their lead with a power play marker off the stick of Chad Hohmann.
“Fridays are tough sometimes. It’s a long work week, it’s a working man’s league. I just thought some of our guys just looked like they were a half step behind out there and when you’re a half step behind and you’re chasing the game it’s tough,” Austring said.
Still, the second goal seemed to wake up the home team in a big way.
With five minutes left to go in the opening frame and the Gens on the power play, Evan Oberg snapped a wrist shot past sprawling Stony goaltender Vincent Marozzi to cut the visitor’s lead in half.
Alex Macleod quickly followed that one up for the home side, sliding the puck between Marozzi’s pads on the breakaway to tie it up at two.
And the team still wasn’t done. With 10 seconds left in the first, Ryan Kinasewich notched one to put the home team up by a goal heading into the first intermission.
Unfortunately for the Generals, the lead didn’t last.
After the Eagles scored the only goal of the second period to tie the game up they went on the offensive.
A relatively quiet first half to the third and final frame, the Eagles blew it open, scoring twice within 20 seconds to take a two goal lead.
They added another one two minutes later to take a three goal lead into the back half of the third.
“We still believed that we could come back, we just needed some time, needed to get the next one. I thought we had some determination. I thought our game elevated at that stage, there, but again it’s too little too late. You’ve got to execute when you need to. They did that tonight,” Austring said.
Eric Galbraith helped start the Generals on the comeback trail, shovelling a power play marker into the Stony net with about seven minutes to go, but that was as far as they would come.
A miss-handled puck by Generals’ goaltender Kraymer Barnstable in the last five minutes led to a Stony Plain goal that would be the final nail in the coffin for the home team.
“He generally makes good decisions but every now and then you have one of those. It certainly deflates us on the bench, there, as far as it puts a nail in the coffin. We need to be in better spots, better support but at the end of the day that’s not the reason we lost it’s a whole host of other things,” Austring said.
The Gens didn’t have any time to dwell on the loss though, and they bounced back quickly to pick up an 8-3 victory over the Eagles in Stony Plain on Saturday night.
In what turned out to be a fairly chippy hockey game, the Generals put on their most dominant performance of the series so far, notching eight goals on 31 shots.
Myles Bell led the way for the Generals with three goals and an assist as the defending champs roared back to tie the series up 2-2.
Game five in the best of seven series between the Stony Plain Eagles and the Lacombe Generals is set to go this Friday at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex in Lacombe. Puck drop on that game is at 8 p.m.