The Lacombe Generals and the Stony Plain Eagles began their first round Allan Cup Hockey West (ACHW) playoff series in Lacombe looking to get an early advantage in a quick five-game series.
The Generals, who finished atop the ACHW standings, were also looking to begin their trek to the Allan Cup — of which they have an automatic berth due to being the host team later this year.
The first period saw both teams feeling each other out until a late period penalty to the Eagles gave the Generals some momentum. Shortly after the penalty expired, Stephen Phee would catch Eagle’s netminder Kevin Nashuk out of position to put his team up a goal.
“He has picked up a step,” Generals Coach Sean Robertson said. “I like what he does and I trust the way he plays. He is very responsible defensively and when you are responsible with the puck — you get those chances.”
The Generals would carry the 1-0 lead heading into the second frame — also leading shots 17-9.
Lacombe would get out of the second period by the skin of their teeth — with the Eagles out-playing them for extended stretches.
Stony Plain would tie the game after Doug Jessey took and extra two minutes for roughing leading to Eagle Blake Grainger scoring on the powerplay.
Fortunately for the Gens, Eagle Cody Hodgson would take a high-sticking penalty leading to a point shot by Defencemen Evan Oberg, which would reestablish the one-goal lead for Lacombe heading into the final frame.
The Generals would need every effort in the third after Eagles forward Chad Hohmann caught a bouncing puck early in the third period to tie the game at two.
Lacombe’s Kyle Stroh would manage to make it a 3-2 game after he deflected a point shot off the cross-bar on the powerplay and the game appeared to be all but over after Phee scored his second of the game with an empty-net goal. The Eagles, however, would add some anxiety to the game after they made made it a 4-1 game with 40 seconds remaining on a goal by Brendan Baumgartner.
The Generals would survive two pressure faceoffs to take Game 1 4-3 — with Game 2 coming in Stony Plain on Wednesday. Lacombe will then come back home Friday for Game 3.
“That is playoff hockey,” Robertson said. “Sixty minutes is how long the game is and you have to play right to the end. It was very important for us to get that win.”
Phee said that despite short lineup, everyone played a part.
“Everyone did their job and we won a close one,” he said.
Robertson added having strong special teams play is bread-and-butter for the playoffs.
“When you have chances, you have to capitalize because other teams will,” he said.
Generals goaltender Tyler Weiman would stop 30 saves for the win.
“We had the right group tonight,” Robertson said. “Wednesday night up there will be tough for us — so be it. It is a challenge and we welcome it.”