The 2019 Allan Cup hosts, the Lacombe Generals, came into their game against the South East Prairie Thunder looking to continue their momentum after winning a two-game provincial championship series against the Innisfail Eagles.
This meant that, despite having the automatic berth, the Generals had won their way into the tournament and were now looking to truly begin their journey to their fourth Allan Cup Championship.
The Generals, however, ran into a brick wall in Prairie Thunder netminder Steve Christie, who stopped 52 shots on the night — many of them of the spectacular variety, leading to a 4-2 win for the Manitoba Champions.
“As a goalie, you maybe don’t want to see that many but you definitely want to feel the puck,” Christie said. “It keeps you in the game and it doesn’t let your mind wander. I think that was helpful.”
Unfortunately for the Generals, the first period would belong to the Manitoba Champions with Tyler Dittmer scoring the only goal of the period for the Prairie Thunder.
The Generals would have plenty of chances on the powerplay, but would ultimately head into the second period down 1-0.
The second period would for a time be a promising affair for Lacombe. Despite falling down two goals early after Brad Cole scored for the Thunder, the Generals had all the momentum of the period after Travis Granbois got the Generals their first score of the tournament.
“I think we wanted to weather the storm,” Christie said regarding his team’s gameplan. “We haven’t played much together as a team after only playing only a short series in Manitoba. We knew they were going to come hard.
“I think did that.”
The joy was, however, diffused by a last minute goal by Prairie Thunder Devon LeBlanc — putting Lacombe down 3-1 heading into the decisive third period.
The third period would be all about the brilliance of Christie, who finished the game with 52 shots — many of which were prime chances in the third period.
“We have seen him before,” Generals Coach Sean Robertson said. “He was up to his old tricks tonight and I just told my guys that they can’t hang their head. I thought we played an excellent game against an opportunistic team.
“They have been that way for years and they are a good hockey team.”
The Generals did manage to solve Christie to cut the lead to 3-2 after a Levi Nelson goal, but a giveaway at the blue line would lead to a breakaway goal by LeBlanc, which put the game away for good.
Generals netminder Tyler Weiman stopped 18 shots in the loss and the Generals now look to Tuesday, when they will take on Haut-Madawaska at 8 p.m. The Prairie Thunder get the day off Tuesday before taking on Haut-Madawaska on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“We need to be very short-sighted,” Robertson said. “We will get a gameplan together tomorrow. We are playing another good hockey team — a team we haven’t seen before.
“We have to play our game again and that is all we can do.”