It’s almost like a rite of spring.
The 2011 Allan Cup national senior men’s “AAA” hockey championship kicked off this week in Kenora, Ontario, and once again, the Bentley Generals are in the mix for the title.
After making it to the finals in 2008 before winning it all in 2009, the Generals lost in last year’s final to the host Fort St. John Flyers.
But Bentley won’t have to face the Flyers at the Allan Cup this year, after a hard fought five game McKenzie Cup regional series that saw the Generals beat Fort St. John three games to two to advance to the national tournament as the Pacific representative.
The series kicked off March 31 at the Red Deer Arena, with Bentley setting the tone in a 4-0 win over Fort St. John, and the very next night, it looked like game two would end the same way with the Generals scoring three power play goals to take a 3-0 lead after the first period.
But the Flyers wouldn’t go away, scoring twice in the second and once in the third period to force overtime, where Rod Stevens ended the game with a power play goal with 1:28 left in the first overtime.
Game three saw Bentley take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after goals by Sean Robertson and former Red Deer Rebel Scott Doucet, but the Generals found themselves trailing 4-3 after two.
The Flyers would add two more goals in the third to take the game 6-3 and a 2-1 series lead.
Facing elimination for the first time in the playoffs, the Generals went into game four knowing a loss would send them home.
Joe Vandermeer put Bentley up 1-0 with a powerplay goal late in the first period, with Don Morrison and Doucet adding second period markers to give the Generals a 3-0 lead after two.
Darryl LaPlante would tally two more goals in the third period to give Bentley the 5-1 win and set up a fifth and final game in the series.
Game five saw LaPlante and Kurt Bensmiller get Bentley on the board first before Kimbi Daniels scored a shorthanded marker late in the period to send the two teams to the intermission with the Generals leading 2-1.
Robertson would put the Generals up 3-1 halfway through the second, and goaltender Scott Galenza would take it from there, giving up a third period power play goal but no more as the Generals won the game and the series 3-2.
The Generals played their first game of the Allan Cup tournament last night (results not available by presstime) against the Dundas Real McCoys, who opened with a 6-1 loss to the host Thistles on Monday.
Bentley will wrap up the round robin tonight against the host team, with playoffs set to start on Thursday.