The City of Lacombe recently honoured the Lacombe Generals organization for their magical run to their fourth Allan Cup — this time on home ice.
”When I was in the Council Chambers, I couldn’t help but think about Field of Dreams. We came to Council with a dream four years ago to move here and here we are being celebrated,” Generals General Manager Jeff McInnis said. “It is surreal to think it is has come this far and as time goes on, it absorbs and the impact is able to be appreciated.”
McInnis described the relationship between the community of Lacombe and the Generals is, simply put, great.
“Any other senior hockey team would be envious of the love affair between the City of the team,” he said. “It is a two-way street and people get it here.
“We kept trying to get someone to believe in us for years and then we started to get some traction in Lacombe.”
McInnis has been around for all four of the General’s Allan Cup wins, but this one definitely is being felt a bit more due to all the planning and hard work that went into hosting the 2019 Allan Cup tournament.
The team also experienced a rare low-point during the regular season.
“There were times in the winter when we were dressing thin lineups,” McInnis said. “We lost three games and everyone thought we were over, it’s doomed and that we were hooped. We dug ourselves out of those low points. This hockey is an emotional roller coaster. Every Wednesday, you get to practice and aren’t sure on attendance because guys are off at work.
“To come out on top is quite an accomplishment for our group.”
The support in Lacombe is a big turnaround since the team’s final days in Bentley.
“In our last few years in Bentley, it was hard to see how this would be sustainable,” McInnis said. “It is a fragile brand, but we have good support not only through attendance but also through everyone doing their part. Maybe they don’t have money to sponsor, but they have money to help it run.
“When everyone is pulling the rope, it is easier and we have generated quite the crew of volunteers. You walk around the Allan Cup, you wouldn’t believe how many people believe in it and offer their time. It is something that has gained a lot of momentum.”
So far, McInnis said the feedback from all of the other teams has been more than positive — something he feels shows that the organization did their research.
“We really able to use our knowledge of the shortcomings of other tournaments to show them what we could do here. We knew we had the tools, you don’t want to be arrogant but we did it. We are not smarter than anyone else, we just have a lot of great people,” he said.
Lacombe’s successful hosting of the 2019 Allan Cup may go down as one of the great last Allan Cup tournaments, with organizers contemplating a change to a playoff-series format.
“It was awarded and will happen next year in Dundas,” McInnis said. “We have asked them to stop awarding it. People really enjoy our playoff games. The more playoff games we play, the better our hockey is. I truly believe that.
“If teams go on a run, they can host Allan Cup hockey playoff games every year. What a magnificent way for teams thinking they could go on a run.”
He added, “I hope the series play they did for 77 years will help bring our hockey back. All those playoff games can get a fever and passion going and maybe grow the hockey.”