The Lacombe Generals came into a two-game series against the Stoney Plain Eagles and the Rosetown Red Wings tied atop the ACHL standings with Rosetown at 20 points a piece.
Lacombe(9-5-0-2), with two less losses than the 10-7-0-0, needed to ideally win both of their weekend games, which would set up a first-round five-game playoff matchup against the Eagles starting Feb. 9th in Lacombe.
After handling Stoney Plain at home 5-1, the Generals fell to Rosetown, Lacombe fell to Rosetown 3-1 but since the season series was tied 3-3 — the tiebreaker went to goals differential meaning the Generals would win first in the ACHL due to the Red Wings not being able to make up the four-goal deficit between the teams.
The Generals were coming into their first game against the Eagles on a mission.
The first period would not start off according to plan , however, with the Eagles quickly getting on the board first on the first shot of the game by Eagle by Jaret Smith.
It would take 10 full minutes of back-and-forth hockey before the Generals managed to tie the game on a powerplay goal by Dylan Nowakowski. The man-advantage would again be a huge factor later in the period when Lacombe took the lead after Kyle Stroh made a nifty back-hand pass to Doug Jessey — who swung it to his d-partner Brennan Evans for a point shot that beat the Eagles netminder.
The Generals took momentum into the second period up 2-1 with 40 minutes to go.
The jolt from the first frame carried over early in the second, after Generals Forward Stephen Phee continued his torrid scoring streak with an unassisted goal — his sixth of the year — to put his squad up 3-1.
The Eagles would manage to keep this one a game, however, after Ryan Benn reached for a stretch pass from Smith to put Stoney Plain within a goal.
The Generals would dig deep to kill a penalty near the end of the period to keep their 3-2 lead heading into the third.
The third period would see the Eagles continue to battle, but two goals from Tanner Korchinski — one of them an empty-netter — would ultimately be the deciding factor in a Generals 5-3 win.
Matt Stefanishion added the only third-period Eagles goal to cap of the box score.
Generals Goaltender Tyler Weiman remained undefeated as a General — stopping 29 shots for his third straight win.
“He plays the puck so well. Makes good saves and his rebounds are unreal. That makes it a lot easier for the D,” Evans said
The Generals quickly are boarded a bus to play the Red Wings in Rosetown Saturday night for first place. Lacombe will, regardless, play their first playoff game on Feb. 9th at the Gary Moe Autogroup Sportsplex.
“If everything goes as planned, we will probably match up with these guys (Stoney Plain) in the first round — so it is good to get a win tonight and put that in their head,” Evans said.
Everything did go as planned, albeit in an unorthodox way. The Generals lost to Rosetown, with their only goal coming from Korchinski but since Rosetown did not win by four goals, the tiebreaker went to Lacombe.
The win sets up a five-game series against Stoney Plain.
Evans expects a hard-fighting playoffs after an unusual season for Lacombe.
“I wouldn’t call it a traditional Lacombe Generals year where we blow the doors off everyone. With Fort Sask’ going down, there is a lot of parity. Everyone is good and it really makes a difference,” he said.