In another sweep, the Bentley Generals have claimed the McKenzie Cup and have advanced onto the Allan Cup.
Last Saturday, Bentley won the best of five series in a three game sweep after defeating the Powell River Regals 6-5 in overtime.
That win earned Bentley the McKenzie Cup and gives them the chance to defend their title as the Allan Cup Champions in Ontario next week.
Coach Ryan Tobler said that the series was very different from the team’s previous series against the Innisfail Eagles where they clinched the Chinook Hockey League and provincial titles.
“It was somewhat unique,” said Tobler. “It was an adjustment period.”
Bentley won the first two games of the series by comfortable margins, but as it has been said before, the scoreboard is not always indicative of how close a game is.
Both Tobler and Bentley Generals centre Kyle Bailey said that was the case in this series. Bailey said that while the Generals scored a lot of goals, they had to battle for each one.
“It wasn’t like we were up 3-0 five minutes into the game and it was a cakewalk,” said Bailey. “I don’t think the score really told the whole story.”
Powell River’s team was one that had been assembled specifically for the McKenzie Cup series and had not played as a unit before. Both Tobler and Bailey said that this might have had something to do with the large score margins in the first two games.
By the third game however, the Regals had started to come together as a team.
They even scored two goals in the last minute of regular play to tie the game 5-5 and force overtime. Bailey said the situation was reminiscent of the Generals previous series against Innisfail which they had also swept with a 6-5 overtime win.
“It’s something we were pretty familiar with, it’s something that’s happened to us quite a bit,” said Bailey. He added that while the position was familiar, the real comfort came from knowing that any of the players on that team could be counted on when the chips were down. “That’s probably the most comforting thing, there isn’t really any weak link.”
Tobler said every game leading up had prepared the Generals for that final game.
“The whole season prepares you for this time of year,” said Tobler. “When things do go a little bit sideways, we have the character to deal with it.”
Tobler added that the attitude of the entire team was to play harder rather than let the closeness of the game bother them. He also said this has been a common attitude for the Generals all season.
“Nothing has really fazed us,” said Tobler. “That’s what I’m really proud of the guys for, the way they handle the adversity.”
Prior to series start, Tobler had expressed some concern that the management of the Regals already had a few Allan Cup titles under its belt. He added that it, while the Regals were at a disadvantage because they had never played as a team before, it would not be the first time where strong management had a led such a hastily constructed team to walk through the McKenzie Cup series and onto the Allan Cup.
“For sure, it was a little bit concerning.”
Bailey said that the Generals were fortunate to be able to win the series in three games as it can become quite physically demanding to play more games at such a competitive level.
He added that, while Powell River perhaps did not have the same chemistry Bentley benefitted from, the Regals still forced the Generals to fight for the McKenzie Cup.
“Any time you are playing for the opportunity to represent your region in a national championship, you’re going to have to earn it, nobody is going to give it to you,” said Bailey. “We knew they weren’t going to give us an inch, especially in that third game. They didn’t come all this way to get routed and go home with their tails between their legs. They wanted to get to the Allan Cup as bad as we did, we just managed to score more goals.”
Next week, the Bentley Generals will head east to defend their Allan Cup title.