The Lacombe Generals celebrated their 2019 Allan Cup victory with a street festival that took over 50th Street in Lacombe.
The event, which featured a free barbecue and other family-friendly events, was the culmination of over two years of effort to bring the Cup to Lacombe.
General Manager Jeff McInnis said the players, staff, volunteers and fans of the Generals were all the special people that made this year possible.
“We know we are fortunate and this group is special. There are not a lot of street festivals for senior hockey across the country. The book we write one day will have this in it,” he said.
The story of 2019 was a more difficult route than the three previous General Allan Cups — with the team losing three games in a row during the season for what felt like the first time in franchise history.
McInnis felt at the time that he wasn’t making the right moves for the team to be successful.
“You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken you-know-what,” he said. “I had so many failed attempts at free agents this year and I felt that I was slipping. I couldn’t get the right young men who fit our team and our culture then we added a guy like Kyle Ross, which led to a guy like Stephen Phee getting better and better.
“It was a hard year. I didn’t think we would be here five years ago, I didn’t think we would be here three years ago and it is hard trophy to win.”
Looking at the roster the Generals finished the year with, McInnis now feels it was a given that they won the Allan Cup.
“When you look back at the roster now, you think of course we won. They are high skilled, high character young men. We won because we have a lot of good young men,” he said.
The Generals will continue to celebrate their fourth Allan Cup throughout the summer before returning for next year — hopefully with another winning roster and a strong Allan Cup Hockey West League.
“The picture we have painted here in Lacombe is pretty impressive and if I am a player, that is where I would like to play. We need a league to play in and we need the senior hockey landscape to get stronger,” he said.
During the celebration, the Generals also took time to recognize Giffen Nyren, who is currently struggling with mental health issues and was recently arrested in Kelowna. McInnis wants Nyren to know that the Generals want to be a base of support for him.
“Through the spring here, he has lost his footing in life so we have to help him because we care for him,” McInnis said. “He is no different than you or I and mental illness is a real thing. He can’t be a pariah, we have to bring him in and let him know he is part of the group.
“We talked about it in our dressing room and we decided to send him some well wishes. We want him to get well and we want to be part of it.”
The Generals have lined up a base of support, including mental health professionals, to support Nyren through his journey.
Mayor Grant Creasey said the Generals in Lacombe has been a great experience for the City
“Lacombe has a long and proud history of supporting hockey throughout the amateur levels and this men’s league has really shined. This is the fourth Cup championship in the last 11 years and it was a really outstanding year,” Creasey said.
Creasey was appreciative of the community for rallying behind the 2019 Allan Cup tournament.
“The entire committee for the Allan Cup and the volunteers all pulled together, along with some outstanding corporate sponsorship that made it all possible,” he said. “They all came together to showcase Lacombe in a positive way and it made for a great week of hockey.
“I heard nothing but positive comments from people across the nation, which is pretty exciting.”