It’s go time for the Bentley Generals.
After two weeks off the ice, the Chinook Hockey League champions are ready for the puck to drop on the 2016 Allan Cup tournament in Steinbach, Manitoba.
“I think everybody’s happy to be here. With a couple of weeks the anticipation grows and we had a few practices. The guys are ready to go,” said Generals’ Head Coach Ryan Tobler on the phone from Steinbach, where the team had just finished their first skate.
The Generals are one of the six teams that qualified for this year’s National Senior Men’s AAA championship and over the course of the next week they will face off against some of the top teams in the country.
“We know what’s at stake and what’s on the line, so we’re very excited,” Tobler said.
As the Pacific representatives, the Gens will face off against the Manitoba representative Ile-des-Chenes North Stars and the Central representative Stoney Creek Generals in the opening round robin games to determine divisional seeding.
“You play your first two. If you win them both, you get the bye (to the semi finals). If you don’t win your division you play in the quarter final game on Thursday,” Tobler explained, noting that Bentley will be facing off against teams they haven’t seen yet this season.
Because they didn’t play their first game until Tuesday, the Generals had the advantage of being able to scout out a game between their two divisional rivals on Monday night.
Despite that, though, Tobler had said his team won’t be making too many changes ahead of their Tuesday afternoon bout with Stoney Creek.
“A tournament, you make adjustments, yes but you don’t go changing your identity. We’ll worry about how we play and hopefully it takes care of itself.”
The Generals will be looking for a little bit of retribution this season after they were defeated in last year’s Allan Cup final by the host South East Prairie Thunder.
They have some history on their side, though. The last time the Generals played in an Allan Cup tournament in Steinbach was 2009, when they won it all.
“I wasn’t here but some of the guys were in ‘09. It’s an electric building, so we’ll expect that. The crowds will be good. It’s a small ice surface. It’s very short with a small neutral zone. We know what to expect. It’s not the biggest rink but we’re okay with that, it suits our game just fine.”
Bentley kicked off the 2016 Allan Cup tournament on Tuesday night with a game against the Stoney Creek Generals. The game was not over at press time.
They’ll play their second game on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against the Ile-des-Chenes North Stars to determine whether they play in the semi finals or quarter finals.
A full schedule and scores can be found on the Allan Cup web site at www.allancup.ca.