The 2019 Allan Cup Semifinals began with a tilt between the defending champion Stoney Creek Generals and Alberta’s own Innisfail Eagles.
After getting the bye Thursday — on top of winning the 2018 title — the Generals were heavily favoured coming in but it would be the Eagles who would continue to claw back every time the Generals tied it up, leading to the eventual 3-2 outcome.
“We had six new guys and everybody contributed. When we came in, we had 32 guys and we used them all except for one. Everyone has to be part of it and everyone has to feel important,” Eagles Coach Brian Sutter said.
It would be the Eagles that found a way to score first after a late Generals penalty lead to a goal by d-man Colton Hayes, who managed to bang a point shot through traffic to put his team up 1-0 heading into the second period.
The second period saw the Eagles fight their way through a barrage of penalties and still come out on top.
After killing five minors, equalling 10 minutes of box time, the Generals did manage to tie the game on goal by Nathan Pageau.
The Eagles would be able to bounce right back after Shawn Bates found a way to beat netminder Ryan DeMelo and gain the lead back with 20 seconds remaining in the frame.
The Eagles continued to show resilience in the third period, which ultimately lead to them punching their ticket to the Allan Cup.
“So many guys in that room have so much heart and determination. When you like and love the guys in the room, you will do what it takes to get it done and I think that was a big key,” Justin Cox said
Stoney Creek would continue to put pressure on, tying the game once again on a goal by Justin Donati, but the Eagles had the final word after forward Cox soared down the left wing to put the game away.
“I seen Batesy driving the net really hard, pulling the d-men back and it allowed me to get set and look where I wanted to shoot it. Luckily it went in the net.”
Sutter credited much of the win to killing penalties.
“The penalties were 10-2 at one point. That is incredible but we killed them and Yorkey played incredible, Barney played incredible last night — that is what it is all about,” Sutter said.
York would finish the game with 27 saves, many of them being of the game-saving variety.
“If you have a good goalie, you have a good chance to win every game,” Sutter said. “We were missing our 1,2,3 goalies for six weeks and we stayed together as a group. It is special but we aren’t done.”
The Eagles now wait to see who their opponent will be between the Lacombe Generals and the Rosetown Red Wings — both teams they have played all season in Allan Cup Hockey West action.
“There are three teams left and they are all from our league. That is pretty special,” Sutter said.
The 2019 Allan Cup Finals will be at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13th at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex.
“Xs and Os at this time of the year matter, but at the same time what you are going to do, how much effort you put it and whether you are going to lay it on the line is going to be the key. We will prepare for that game tomorrow and we will be ready to go.”