Solid showdowns for local hockey squads recently

It was a pretty good showing for a couple of Central Alberta hockey squads this past weekend.

The Bentley Generals were in Kenora, Ontario for the national senior men’s AAA hockey championship while the Blackfalds Wranglers were in Sherwood Park for the Western Canadian Junior B hockey championship.

The Generals opened play at the Allan Cup, which they won in 2009, with a hard fought 4-3 win over the Dundas Real McCoys before earning a bye into the semi-finals with a 3-2 win over the host Thistles.

That set up a semi-final match with the Fort Frances Thunderhawks, which the Generals won handily 7-2, with Paul Cabana, Don Morrison and Travis Brigley each potting two goals to send Bentley to its fourth straight national championship final.

Looking to avenge last year’s loss to Fort St. John in the final, the Generals went up against Newfoundland’s Clarenville Caribous.

Despite being outshot 42-23, including 25-8 in the second period, Clarenville held on to win its first ever national senior men’s hockey title with Morrison, Curtis Austring and Joe Vandermeer scoring for Bentley in a 5-3 loss to the Caribous.

The Generals become the first team since the 1994-97 Warroad Lakers to appear in four consecutive championship games.

Meanwhile, at the Keystone Cup, the Blackfalds Wranglers opened play with a 4-3 loss to the host Sherwood Park Knights before wrapping up day one with an 8-1 win over Saskatchewan’s Pilot Butte Storm.

Day two saw the Wranglers win a wild one, outlasting Vancouver Island’s Peninsula Panthers 7-6, with day three bringing Blackfalds two more wins, 8-5 over Manitoba’s Arborg Ice Dogs and 11-0 over Ontario’s Northern Hawks.

By finishing the round robin with a 4-1 record, the Wranglers found themselves in the gold medal game against the only team to beat them at the tournament, the host Knights.

That one saw Blackfalds get behind the eight-ball early when Sherwood Park opened the scoring to take a 1-0 lead into the second period.

With just under three minutes left in the second period, Karson French knotted the score at 1-1 setting up a tense third period.

David Jantzie potted the winner at 12:39 of the third period, and goaltender Tanner Schalin closed the door the rest of the way, making 49 saves overall, as the Wranglers won the Keystone Cup with a 2-1 win over the Knights.