The Lacombe Generals were looking to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their Alberta Senior ‘AAA’ playoff game against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs on Monday.
The Generals were riding a high after stealing a win in the Chiefs’ own building the previous day, led by goaltender Steven Sanford who shut out Fort Saskatchewan 2-0.
Both teams, however, were very different heading into this one.
“We have some depth now. They have some depth now,” Generals Head Coach Sean Robertson said. “We are completely two different teams than from the regular season.”
The Chiefs, however, were not going to lay down for the Generals and quickly got out to a 1-0 lead, after Matt Herder notched an unassisted goal less than five minutes into the opening frame.
Despite dominating the first period shots 16-7, it would be the Chiefs capitalizing on their chances.
Chiefs forward Jordan Wood would add a powerplay goal to give the Chiefs a hefty 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
The Generals came into the second with a bit more wind, eventually finding a way to find the back of the net just over seven minutes into the period. Unfortunately for Lacombe, the ref had previously whistled the play dead and the goal was disallowed.
Seeing the back of the net, however, clearly made a difference for the Generals.
After several minutes of extended pressure, Jesse Todd found the back of the net to put Lacombe on the scoreboard.
The Generals would continue to put pressure on Chiefs goaltender Devon Fordyce, eventually finding a way to tie the game with just under 32 seconds remaining in the frame, when Brennan Evans found the back of the net on a big rebound.
The game would head into the deciding frame with plenty to sort out.
Nothing, however, would be figured out in the final frame.
Fort Saskatchewan would hold court in the Generals’ zone for the majority of the period, with Lacombe having to fight off three Chiefs powerplays.
Despite dominating shots 41-22, the Generals would look to finish of this one in sudden death overtime.
It would take 10 minutes of back and forth hockey before the Generals were finally able to power through.
Nolan Huysmans found a way to sneak it past Fordyce on a streaking play off the left wing.
“(Brad) Stebner did a good job of getting the puck up ice,” Huysmans said. “I had a lot of room. I looked towards the middle and then was able to squeak it shortside. I think the goalie started to cheat a little bit.”
Robertson said the play was a result of guys rushing down the middle towards the net.
“We aren’t going to score too many goals on this guy if we don’t have guys going to the net,” Robertson said.
“If he can see the puck and he doesn’t have guys coming at him, I think he is going to make the save.”
Robertson said Fordyce’s success is indicative of, “Playoff Hockey.
“Gone are the days of mailing in efforts and walking over teams,” he said. “Defence will win you hockey games. Not offence. For us to only give up two goals over the weekend was fairly important.”
With the win, the Generals take a big 2-0 lead in the series, with Game 3 coming on Saturday in Lacombe, followed by Game 4 in Fort Saskatchewan.
“Our mindset is going to be a bit different,” Robertson said.
“We stuck to our gameplan for the most part for both games but goals are hard to come by so we are going to have to work harder. We still have to do a good job keeping those guys to the outside.”