The Bentley Generals started their regular season this past weekend with games against Okotoks and Stony Plain, coming away victorious in both.
On Oct. 19th, the Gens played the Stony Plain Eagles in Lacombe and defeated them 8-4.
Coach Ryan Tobler said the wins mean the Generals have started the season on the right foot, but they still have a long road to go if they are going to reclaim the Allan Cup.
“We’re disappointed with the way that it went last year,” said Tobler. “We reloaded a bit. We’ve come with a new sense of hunger and determination and we’re trying to get that cup back. We’ve had a good start to the season but it’s not how you start it’s how you finish.”
For the first half of the game on Sunday, the teams seemed evenly matched. Brett Robertson of the Generals opened scoring for the game and the Gens and Eagles would spend the remainder of the period trading goals back and forth.
At the end of 20 minutes, the score was 3-2 in favour of Bentley.
The second period looked like it would play out much the same when Bentley lost their lead less than two minutes in. Things changed about three minutes in though when General Kyle Bailey got a lucky break scoring an unassisted shorthanded goal that was kicked in by Eagles goalie Jeremy Balyk. In the same minute, Bailey would score again, this time assisted by Curtis Armstrong, giving the Generals a two-point lead.
Bentley used the remainder of the period to build off that momentum, scoring twice more before the buzzer.
A fourth Eagles goal at about halfway through the period led to the Generals switching goalie Travis Yonkman for Dustin Butier. Tobler said he stands by the decision to swap goalies, but added Yonkman could have had more help from his teammates in that game.
Butier would play the remainder of the game without missing a save. The Generals would head into the final period 7-4. In the third, Stony Plain came out much harder than they had all game. More time was spent in the Generals’ defensive end than the previous two periods and while the Generals did not allow for any goals by the Eagles, it seemed they had a harder time getting the puck out of their end.
However, the Generals still managed one more goal to finish the game with an impressive 8-4 lead. Tobler said back-to-back games early in the season mean the Generals aren’t as conditioned as they would like to be yet and fatigue may have been a bit of a factor in Sunday’s game.
Tobler also said the Eagles have made a few changes to their roster and had new speed and talent to showcase to the Generals.
Last season, one of the Generals’ strengths was team chemistry. Tobler said there seems to be a similar trend from this year’s team, of which there is a core group of veteran players.
Tobler said that there is a lot of season left to improve on their weaker areas of play and through hard work in practice and taking care of themselves off the ice, the players should be able to make something of it.
“Hopefully it translates to success.”