The Lacombe Generals helped the City of Lacombe open up the Gary Moe Autogroup Sportsplex last week with a thrilling game against the visiting Red Deer College Kings – ending in a 5-4 win for the Kings.
The Generals would have a shaky first period, dropping three goals to the Kings in what looked like was going to be runaway for the collegiates.
Lacombe would find a way to come back in the second and third periods, bringing the game to a 4-4 draw with seconds left on the clock.
“The last three times we played them, it went to overtime,” Generals’ General Manager Jeff McInnis said.
“I said to the coach, see if you can’t get it done before overtime.”
Unfortunately for the home team, the game was settled before overtime, with the Kings scoring with three seconds remaining in the third period.
Despite the loss, McInnis was excited to be a part of the day’s events.
“We feel pretty lucky,” he said.
“When we were trying to move the club and get it here – we thought the rink was great then. Now, millions of dollars later, this place is just like new – the lights, benches, ice, lobbies -everything.”
The game opened with outgoing Mayor Steve Christie dropping the ceremonial puck to commemorate the occasion.
“It is a big day and we have lots of pride,” McInnis said. “For years, we were kind of a travelling band. We don’t have to do that now. You don’t have to wonder where is the Generals’ game – it is here.”
McInnis said the team is excited to have so much support from Lacombe residents.
“Senior hockey is very fragile, so to survive – you need support and it is pretty cool to have it,” he said.
He added Lacombe will allow for fans and players alike to make their games.
“People always like the fact that is easier to get to,” he said.
“Geography wasn’t our friend in Bentley, so we always had to defend it saying, ‘It’s worth your time’. Now it is less effort and I tease people that there are less excuses not to make the drive.”
On the hockey side of things, McInnis expects the team to grow and he intends to add forward depth.
“Initially, we are strong from our back-end out,” McInnis said. “Goaltending to defence. We are short up front on a regular basis, which tells us we need to shore up depth.”
McInnis will gauge the field before adding pieces.
“It’s September, so I need to temper myself in order not to try to build it over night,” he said. “We are in pretty good shape to start but here is more work to do.”
He added, “We appreciate everyone here today.”