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ACHW 2018/19 Playoff Report - Week 1 - Games 1 & 2
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Week 1 of the 2019 ACHW Playoffs is off to a hot start.  Round 1 of the 2019 ACHW Playoffs commenced with a pair of 8 pm local starts on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

 

Game 1 - Stony Plain Eagles @ Lacombe Generals - Saturday February 9, 2019, 8:00 pm MST

The 2019 ACHW Regular Season Champion and #1 seed Lacombe Generals welcomed the Stony Plain Eagles to the “Moe” for game 1 of their best of 5 series on Saturday night.  The series pits two of the ACHW’s marquee franchises against each other.  The Eagles and Generals share 4 Allan Cup Championships between the two storied franchises along with countless League and Provincial championships.  Stony came into Saturday night attempting to change their fortunes after a lengthy losing streak to end the regular season and Lacombe looking to ply their trade and get their team in top form for the Allan Cup in April. 

The league champs came out firing, jumping on the visitors early on a beauty goal by Generals forward Steven Phee.  Phee showed patience and poise as he walked across the goal mouth waiting out Eagles netminder Kevin Nastiuk to net the game’s opening salvo just 3:29 into the first.  Nastiuk shut the door the remainder of the period allowing his team to weather the storm.  Nastiuk made 16 saves in the opening period to keep his team in the game, down only 1-0.

Stony Plain evened the scoring at 11:17 of the second when call-up Blake Grainger put one past Generals keeper Tyler Weiman to knot it at 1.  However, just three minutes later Eagles defender David Ahl was sent to the box for elbowing giving the Generals their first power play of the night.  It took Lacombe all of 22 seconds to set up forward Keenan Desmet who beat Nastiuk to put the Generals back on top 2-1.  The score would stay that way as the second period concluded with the shots 12-10 in favour of Lacombe in the middle stanza. 

The action intensified in the third when Stony Plain tied the game just 3:12 in.  Eagles assistant captain Chad Hohmann tipped a point shot from teammate Dallen Hall past Weiman to even the score.  The goal energized the Eagles and silenced the Lacombe crowd but a tripping minor half way through the final frame to Stony Plain forward Brendan Baumgartner proved to be the turning point. 

Back on the power play, the Generals capitalized once again when Levi Nelson jumped on a loose puck in the slot, fired it on net, off teammate Kyle Stroh, then off the post and past Nastiuk for a 3-2 lead with 9:08 remaining.  Phee added his second of the game into the empty net with 1:02 left to seemingly seal the deal for the Generals. 

However, just 13 seconds later Baumgartner pounced on a bouncing puck at the side of net and atoned for his penalty by netting his first of the playoffs and getting his team back in it, now trailing 4-3 with 49 seconds left.  The Eagles used their time out, fought hard, and nearly tipped the equalizer past Weiman in the final seconds, firing a game high 14 shots on goal in the final period, but it wasn’t meant to be. 

The Generals held on for a 4-3 victory, outshooting the Eagles 46-33, and were perfect on special teams going 2/2 on both the power play and the penalty kill.  Nastiuk was Stony Plain’s player of the game with 42 saves on 45 shots.  Lacombe defenceman Doug Jessey turned in a solid defensive performance and was the player of the game for the Generals. 

Game 2 of the series is slated for Wednesday night, February 13th, in Stony Plain at 7:45 pm at the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena.

 

Game 1 – Innisfail Eagles @ Rosetown Red Wings – Saturday February 9, 2019, 8:00 pm CST

The Red Wings lovingly refer to their home arena in Rosetown, SK, as the “Bannerbarn”.  On Saturday night, the ‘Barn was burning hot in a wild series opener that saw 12 goals scored in the game. 

The fire was stoked by three consecutive goals to open the game by Rosetown.  Zadorozniak, Delahey and Boyer all tallied for the hometown Red Wings putting them up 3-0 just 11:16 into the first period.  But the Eagles perhaps scored their biggest goal of the game just 13 seconds later when defenceman Chris Bailer beat Red Wings goaltender Brody Hoffman to make it 3-1 and avoid a first period Rosetown runaway. 

The first period was riddled with penalties, a total of 12 minors dolled out between the two teams.  When Rosetown forward Justin Fox took a roughing penalty with 2:50 remaining in the period, Innisfail took advantage just 10 seconds later making it 3-2 on a PP goal by Michael Desjarlais, assisted by Ty Clay.  Innisfail found themselves back on the power play to end the period, but Rosetown’s Braden Uhrich cashed in a shorthanded marker to put his team back on top by 2.  The period ended with Rosetown outshooting Innisfail 21-15 and outscoring them 4-2.  The barn, she was a burnin’. 

The Eagles regrouped in the first intermission, settled down and scored the next four consecutive goals to take over the game.  Tyler Beechy scored a shorthanded goal of his own at the halfway point of the second and less than 5 minutes later teammate Ty Clay scored his first of the postseason to tie the game at four.  Innisfail killed three consecutive penalties in the second and went 9 for 10 on the penalty kill in the game. 

The Red Wings inefficiency on the power play came back to haunt them in the third when they went down 5 on 3 on two different occasions.  Beechy struck again at 4:42 of the third, this time on the power play and then just 1:27 later Beechy assisted on linemate Shawn Bates’ first of the playoffs and the Eagles were up 6-4.  Rosetown made a goaltender change & Innisfail went into straight rope-a-dope mode scoring on their only 2 shots of the period and did not render a single shot on goal in the final 12:41 of the game. 

Rosetown finally bent twine on the power play after Innisfail goaltender Allen York took a delay of game penalty and Red Wings forward Jordie Johnston scored 8 seconds later to make things interesting. The goal, however, was too little, too late and Beechy completed his hat trick into the empty net with 49 seconds remaining, completing the scoring with Innisfail up 7-5. 

The game was a special teams nightmare for the hometown Red Wings allowing 2 goals on the PK along with a gruesome 1 for 10 on the PP.  Red Wings goaltender Brody Hoffman allowed 6 goals on 27 shots in his 47:19 minutes of work before being replaced by Nik Amundrud who did not face a shot in his 12:41 between the pipes.  Innisfail goaltender Allen York turned aside 35 of the 40 shots he faced in backstopping his team to a hard-fought character road win. 

Rosetown will look to avenge the loss in Game 2, set for Sunday February 10th at 5:30 pm back at the Bannerbarn. 

 

Game 2 – Innisfail Eagles @ Rosetown Red Wings – Sunday February 10, 2019, 5:30 pm CST

It was a frigid -25C outside but the Bannerbarn was still smouldering on Sunday evening when the Rosetown Red Wings and Innisfail Eagles locked horns in game 2 of their best of 5 first round ACHW Playoff series.  The night before, the Red Wings came out with their hair on fire netting the first three goals of the game but later fizzled, dropping the contest 7-5. 

The storyline played out a little differently in Rosetown on Sunday night, but there were some familiar circumstances playing out.  The dreaded 5 on 3 penalty kill was again the backbreaker for the hometown Wings when Michael Desjarlais cashed his second PP goal of the series from Joe Vandermeer and Ty Clay at 15:09 of the first period.  With Jordie Johnston and Jordan Fransoo each in the box, Rosetown gave up their third 5 on 3 shorthanded situation in 4 periods and third PP goal against in the series.  On the flip side, the Eagles were again opportunistic on the road, getting their PP goal, outshooting the Red Wings 14-11, and finishing the first up 1-0.

The scales tipped to start the second period with the Red Wings finding themselves with a lengthy 5 on 3 power play and a fresh sheet of ice.  Pesky Innisfail forward Cody Rainaldi was already in the box serving a double minor for high sticking when teammate Dan Nichols took a 2 minute boarding penalty 42 seconds later.  Rosetown, however, could not capitalize, Innisfail dug in, killed it off and then went up by two when Tyler Beechy potted the insulator, his fourth in five periods, from Pete Vandermeer to put the Eagles up 2-0. 

Down 1-0 in the series and now down 2 goals halfway through game 2, it was ‘Carpe Diem’ time for the Red Wings, now or never.  They responded like the team who led the league in overall wins for the regular season.  Rosetown forward and Blake, SK, native Cameron Blair notched his first of the series, unassisted, at 11:43 of the period to spark the comeback and then the Wings tied the game when Jonathan Redlick scored, from Grolla and Zadorozniak, with 7:26 remaining.  The second period ended with the score level at two goals a piece.  Shots 11-9 Innisfail for the period. 

The teams remained deadlocked at 2 until Red Wing centre Cameron Blair found the back of the net for his second of the game from Todd Fiddler, putting Rosetown up 3-2 with just 6:04 left on the clock.  The comeback was seemingly complete as Rosetown pushed to the finish and Innisfail pushed back.  Then, with the teams skating at 4 on 4, Michael Desjarlais struck again, his third goal of the series, tying the game only until teammate Brett O’Malley put home the game winning goal on the PP with 56 seconds left to put the Bannerbarn on ice and help Innisfail escape town with a narrow 4-3 win and 2-0 lead in the series.    

Rosetown goaltender Brody Hoffman had a bounce back performance stopping 40 of 44 shots while his counterpart York stopped 29 of 32.  Rosetown’s power play is now just 1 for 17 in the series while Innisfail’s power play has accounted for 4 of the team’s 11 goals through 2 games. Michael Desjarlais and Tyler Beechy continue to lead the way offensively for the Eagles, the two are responsible for 7 of the team’s 11 goals in the series.  Clay, J. Vandermeer, and Hayes each had 2 assists in the game. 

The win gives Innisfail a commanding 2-0 series lead heading home to Alberta for game 3 at the Innisfail Twin Arena on Saturday night, February 16th, puck drop at 7:30 pm MST.

 

Game 2 - Lacombe Generals @ Stony Plain Eagles - Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 7:45 pm MST

Game 2 of the ACHW first round playoff matchup between the Generals and Eagles was a rare weekday affair.  The first period saw just one goal scored, and that was by the home team as big Matt Stefanishion put Stony Plain on the board with his first of the postseason at 9:11.  Kevin Nastiuk was rock solid setting aside all 12 Lacombe shots to keep his team up 1-0 at the period's close.  

The second period was one of missed opportunities for the Generals.  Lacombe carried the balance of play, outshooting Stony 13-7 but went 0-4 on the power play in the period, 0-6 in the first 40 minutes.  

The Eagles took advantage and clawed their way back in the series in the third period on the backs of goals by Jordan Hoffman and Jeremie Perron.  The period was a tightchecking affair with the Eagles allowing just 5 shots on goal in the final frame.  Frustrations boiled over late in the third as the teams' familiarity has brought forward its inevitable companion, comtempt.  Six players were showed the gate as tempers flaired and the longstanding rivaly was officially ignited.

Perron finished the night with a goal and an assist for the Eagles.  Nastiuk was perfect with 30 saves on 30 shots, winning his first game and getting his first shutout of the playoffs.  

The win guarantees a game 4 back at the Centennial Arena in Stony Plain on Saturday night, puck drop is 7:30 pm.  Game 3, however, is set for Friday night at 8:00 pm at the 'Moe' in Lacombe.  


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