SOLID MOVES - From right, Ryan Demharter of the Ft. Saskatchewan Chiefs got into position as Jesse Todd of the Lacombe Generals stretched to reach a loose puck in front of the Chiefs net during last seasons Generals home opener in this file shot. Lacombe Express file photo

Lacombe Generals are all set for 2017-18

The Generals held their golf tournament at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club

The Lacombe Generals held their annual golf tournament over the weekend at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club. The tournament is a fun day of golf, which allows the greater community to show their support for their local senior hockey team.

Jeff McInnis, Generals general manager, explained that the tournament helps keep the Generals on the ice in Lacombe.

“This is the 12th time we have had a Generals Golf Tournament,” he said “It is getting easier because we don’t wonder about what we are going to do, but it hasn’t been easier finding the teams.

“We are pretty proud that when the day comes, we can tell all the guys just to enjoy it. It is like planning a wedding. You fret about it until it finally arrives and then you just enjoy it.”

The tournament had 136 golfers and 40 onlookers attend and support the AAA senior team on a beautiful summer day in Lacombe.

“The funds go to hockey sticks—trying to keep things alive,” McInnis said. “It goes to running a hockey team and that is why golf tournaments exist.”

The hockey team, according to McInnis, is coming together nicely for 2017.

“On paper, we are pretty happy,” he said.

“We have something happening that has never happened and that is having all of our defencemen back. Our defence was probably the strongest part of our team last year. We are happy to have those men back.”

Backing up the defence are three solid goaltenders who will share duties between the pipes, according to McInnis.

“Our goaltending should be strong—we have added Steven Stanford to join Kraymer Barnstable and Jakob DeSerres. There should be no excuses there.”

The stability on the back-end should help out a new stable of forwards joining the Generals this season.

“The forwards have some turnover but we have added some guys like Cody Cartier, Matt Brown and Bill Marshall. We are getting some leadership back from two years ago with Kyle Bailey—he leads through his strong play and effort.

McInnis added defencemen Nathan Deck is back after winning the Allan Cup Championship in 2016 and will provide solid leadership. McInnis noted the Generals were a little short on experienced leadership last season.

The league, which is always competitive according to McInnis, will now have a full-time competitor in Rosetown, who will be hosting the 2018 Allan Cup Championship.

“I expect in 2017-18, the Allan Cup host team Rosetown will be strong,” he said.

“All their guys will be vying for spots on the Allan Cup roster.”

McInnis said the golf tournament is part of a solid community fit for the Generals in Lacombe.

“We have gravitated here naturally,” he said.

“We hosted the Allan Cup in 2013 and we noticed that a lot of our tickets were being sold to this region. Suddenly Lacombe started to make sense. The rink here is perfect and there is a great history of hockey in this community.

The move from Bentley to Lacombe was designed to keep the team afloat, as well as allowing more fans to attend games.

“For years we wondered how we were going to keep this team alive. In Bentley, it wasn’t sustainable. We’d go on the road and they would get 800 people and we could only hold 200.”

The Generals will start their season in Stoney Plain on Oct. 14th against the Eagles, followed by a game in Innisfail against the Eagles.

The Generals home opener will be on Oct. 28th at the Gary Moe Autogroup Sportsplex at 7:30 p.m.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com