AA Lacombe Generals 2 – 1 Red Deer Rustlers
The AA Lacombe Generals came into their home and home series against the Red Deer Rustlers needing both wins to advance in the NCHL standings.
Sitting in eighth place with four points, two wins against the second place Rustlers (10 points) would go a long way to the Gens making up for an earlier forced-forfeit that robbed them of a win against Blackfalds.
“We started out pretty sluggish to start the year, but we have pulled together as a team,” General Josh Smith said of the teams latest success.
The Generals would find a way to capitalize on home ice, winning game one of their home and home by grabbing the winner early in the third period and hanging on to win 2-1.
“I thought it was a really hard battle between two teams. It went right down to the wire and we figured it would be a low scoring game, which it was,” Generals Coach Jordan Koopmans.
The first period of the first game in Lacombe would solve nothing for either team, with Red Deer Goalie Mike Salmon and Generals netminder MacKenzie Engel both making some spectacular saves.
The second period would look like it was all Red Deer, but Lacombe managed to salvage the period later on. Out shooting Lacombe 29-19 through two, Red Deer would get on the board first when Tyler Berkholtz beat Engel unassisted.
Despite the shots advantage, the Generals would head into the third tied 1-1 after Scott Kallis’s shot through traffic beat Salmon five-hole.
“On both our goals, we had shots from the point to generate offence. We had been missing a lot of net in the first period but we stuck to out system and pulled through in the end,” Koopmans said
Smith would come out firing for Lacombe and would ultimately net the winner early in the third period.
“Arseni (Oursov) passed it up to me, getting it around their guy. A couple of our guys screened the goalie for me. It wasn’t the hardest shot, so I was lucky to have my guys in front,” Smith said.
The Generals would ride out the rest of the period to grab the first game of their home and home series.
Engel would grab his second win in a row with 39 saes on the night; while Salmon stopped 27 for the Rustlers.
The Generals play Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. at Servus Arena in a game that will be highlighed on Rogers Hometown Hockey on Sportsnet.
“Tonight was a big win and we will definetely carry that momentum into tomorrow. If we stay diciplined and keep putting pucks on the net, I think we can go for that W,” Koopmans said.
Koopmans said Hometown Hockey will be a great experience for his squad.
“Hometown Hockey is an awesome experience and will be awesome exposure for the whole league,’ he said.
AA Lacombe Generals 6 – 8 Red Deer Rustlers
The Generals came into the second game of their home and home against the Rustlers hoping for a clean sweep.
After riding a solid defensive game on Friday night, Lacombe was hoping to use the same formula in a game that was being featured on Rogers Hometown Hockey.
That formula wouldn’t playout. The Red Deer Rustlers would go on to win in an 8-6 offensive explosion from both teams.
Red Deer would leave the first period with a 2-1 lead on goals by Connor Patchett and Jaret Smith, but Lacombe’s Kyle Sheen kept it close with a goal of his own.
Lacombe would continue to keep it close in the second period, getting another two goals from Sheen and another by Abbott.
Red Deer would keep it a 4-4 tie on goals Jason Lundmark and Kyle Pess.
Red Deer would pull away in the third on goals by Rylan Plant-Crough, Tyler Berkholtz, Dylan Houston and Pess’s second. Lacombe would round out the scoring with goals by Josh Sith and Jared Ramstead, leading to the 8-6 final.
Mike Salmon stopped 22 shots for the win, while MacKenzie Engel stopped 25 for Lacombe.
Lacombe will play on Dec. 14 in Daysland, before returning home to take on Blackfalds on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.