The Bentley Generals are in the midst of preparing for another tough Chinook Hockey League season.
The senior men’s AAA hockey team is looking to follow up on last year’s whirlwind season, which saw them win the Chinook Hockey League title and almost claim a national championship.
The Generals had a strong showing last season.
After finishing the regular season with 23 wins and only a single loss, the Generals stormed their way to the Chinook League final where they swept the Innisfail Eagles in four games, clinching a birth in the Allan Cup tournament, which is Canada’s national championship at the senior men’s AAA level.
“We always talked about winning our last game and we put ourselves in a good situation to do that in the Allan Cup final,” said Head Coach Ryan Tolbin.
The team went all the way to the final game of the tournament, but lost 2-0 to the South East Prairie Thunder from Manitoba.
“That (last game) didn’t turn out the way we wanted, obviously, but we learn from that and we move on, we regroup and we reload,” Tolbin said. He added the club’s goal this year is to get back to the Allan Cup.
“It’s a bit of a disappointment but we have a chance to make good on it this year.”
Training camp is currently underway for the Generals, who will see a number of new as well as returning faces on their roster.
“It’ll be exciting. We’re losing some key guys but hopefully the guys who come in can do a job for us,” said Tolbin, noting that while there has been a higher turnover of players than previous years, he hopes the new players can step up and contribute.
Camp opened last Wednesday with the first on-ice session of the season. Since then the team has held two skates. The Generals swept through the two exhibition games they had scheduled this weekend, first defeating the Red Deer College Kings 4-1 on Friday night before heading to Calgary and felling the SAIT Trojans on Saturday by a score of 2-1.
Tolbin said while the team’s expectations are high and their ultimate goal is to make it back to the Allan Cup, they are taking nothing for granted.
“You have to come out of your province first and we have a very good league here. We have to take care of that first and there’s no looking ahead. There are no guarantees. The bottom line is it’s hard to get to that tournament and it’s even harder to win it,” said Tolbin. “One step at a time. That’s the way we approach things.”
The Generals will kick off the regular season at the Lacombe Arena on Oct. 17th with a tilt against the Rosetown Redwings.