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ACHW 2018/19 Playoff Report - Week 2 - Games 3 & 4
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ACHW 2019 Playoff Report - Week 2 - Games 3 & 4

 

Game 3 – Stony Plain Eagles @ Lacombe Generals – Friday February 15, 2019, 8:00 pm MST

The series between perennial ACHW powerhouses, the Stony Plain Eagles and Lacombe Generals, shifted south to Lacombe for game 3 this past weekend with the series knotted at 1 game a piece.  Stony having clawed themselves back in the series on the strength of a 30 save shutout by netminder Kevin Nastiuk in game 2.

Friday night, however, would be a different story.  The Generals were all business in game 3 jumping out to a commanding 3-0 lead before the 1st period would end.  Boston Bruins 6th round draft pick, Levi Nelson, opened the scoring for Lacombe at 9:09 of the first, an even strength tally, assisted by Giffen Nyren and Kyle Stroh.  Lacombe struck again less than 5 minutes later, on a goal by Dylan Nowakowski and then stretched their lead to 3-0 when Jesse Todd bulged the twine with 3:20 remaining in the first.  The Generals outshot the Eagles 12-10 in the opening frame.

The second period saw no scoring but did see the Eagles squander 3 separate power play opportunities while outshooting the Generals 9-5.  The game remained 3-0 in favour of Lacombe until well into the third period before Kyle Stroh put the game out reach pumping home a PP goal with 4:55 left in the third, assists to Nelson and Nyren.  Stony Plain did launch a spirited 3rd period effort, vastly outshooting the home team 23-11 in the final 20 minutes.  The Eagles were simply not able to best a stellar effort by Generals’ netminder Tyler Weiman.  Weiman made 42 saves for his first shutout of the postseason, matching Nastiuk’s 30 save effort from two nights earlier. 

With the game out of reach, the two teams exchanged the proverbial pleasantries in the final minutes.  With a little over a minute left in the game, Eagles forward Sean Maktaak took a 2-minute boarding penalty when he knocked Generals forward Keenan Desmet hard into the boards.  Lacombe’s captain and team leader, Brennan Evans, took exception to the hit and challenged Maktaak immediately. The two dropped the gloves and stood toe to toe, exchanging blows as the Gary Moe Autogroup Sportsplex buzzed with excitement.  Both players were given the gate and will be ineligible to play in game 4 Saturday night.

Final score, Lacombe Generals 4 – Stony Plain Eagles 0.

The two teams will look to renew hostilities in game 4 Saturday night at 7:30 pm at the Glenn Hall Centennial Arena in Stony Plain.  Lacombe shooting to close out the series and punch their ticket to the ACHW Playoff Finals while the Eagles hope to stay alive for a game 5 in Lacombe on Sunday. 

 

Game 4 – Lacombe Generals @ Stony Plain Eagles – Saturday, February 16, 2019, 7:30 pm MST

After the fireworks to conclude game 3 and the teams exchanging shut out victories the prior 2 games, game 4 was sure to be hotly contested with the series on the line.  Although there was no scoring in the first, the goalies stole the show.  Tyler Bunz got the start for Stony Plain replacing Kevin Nastiuk who had started the previous three games in the series but lost game three 4-0.  The duo must be the envy of all ACHW teams, Bunz having been drafted in the 5th round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 while Nastiuk was drafted in the 4th round by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003.  The two are as a good a tandem as you will see at the Allan Cup level.  Bunz was peppered with 17 shots in the first while his counterpart from Lacombe, Tyler Weiman, a 2002 5th round pick of the Colorado Avalanche, made 10 saves of his own. 

Goose eggs remained on the board until late into the second period when Levi Nelson scored the opening goal of the game for the second consecutive night with 6:34 remaining in the second.  48 seconds later Lacombe stretched their lead to 2-0 on Steven Phee’s second of the series, both goals coming at even strength.  The 2-0 deficit had Eagles fans squirming in their seats at Glenn Hall Centennial Arena, the series slipping away with every tick of the clock.  Despite the two goals allowed, Bunz had another solid period making 14 saves to keep his team on life support with only 20 minutes left in their ACHW season. 

But Eagles got what the doctor ordered in the third period.  Stony Plain fired 16 shots on goal in the final twenty and scored first at 12:04 of the period.  Brendan Baumgartner again coming up clutch for the Eagles and breathing new life into his teammates.  But the new life was short lived when 2:19 later Nelson put the dagger in the series with his second goal of the game, making it 3-1 Lacombe with 5:37 remaining.  Stony Plain showed the grit and character of an Allan Cup worthy team battling to get one back before the end of the game, but it was too little, too late. 

Eagles fall to the Generals, make the final, Lacombe Generals 3, Stony Plain Eagles 2.  The Lacombe Generals advance to the ACHW league playoff championship series with a 3-1 series victory.

While Lacombe moves on, this is not the end of the road for the Stony Plain Eagles in 2019.  The Eagles will play a best-of-7 Alberta Provincial Semi-Final series against the Innisfail Eagles starting in early March.  The series is sure to be dubbed the “Battle of the Birds”, the winner will earn the right to represent the Alberta/Pacific region in this year’s Allan Cup National Championship tournament April 8-13 in Lacombe. 

 

Game 3 – Rosetown Red Wings @ Innisfail Eagles – Saturday, February 16, 2019, 7:30 pm MST

Game 3 of the 2019 ACHW first round playoff matchup between the Rosetown Red Wings and Innisfail Eagles saw the series move from the wheat fields of Saskatchewan to the heart of cattle country in Innisfail, Alberta.  The previous two games were stolen by the Eagles in the hostile confines of the ‘Bannerbarn’ and it was now or never for the Red Wings as the brooms were out in a must-win game 3 in the Eagles’ Nest. 

The Red Wings wasted no time in breaking some eggs, they scored 16 seconds into the game on a sudden bounce and opportunistic goal by Jonathan Redlick to stun the crowd on a cold, snowy night in central Alberta.  But the lead didn’t last long, and the capacity crowd got warmed up in a hurry when the lethal Innisfail power play went to work just a few minutes later.  That’s when ACHW regular season scoring champion Shawn Bates sniped the tying goal on a tic-tac-toe play made to perfection from Brett O’Malley and Colton Hayes.  Innisfail fired 20 shots on Rosetown goaltender Brody Hoffman in the first, but the score remained level at one after one. 

With the series on the line, the game was intense and part way through the period a fierce puck battle resulted in a bare knuckles throwdown between Innisfail’s Blair Mulder and Rosetown’s Justin Fox.  The two combatants each landing one or two hard shots before wrestling each other to the ice and bringing the crowd to its feet once again.  The altercation not only excited the crowd, it got the Eagles going.  With Redlick in the box for tripping, the Eagles power play moved the puck around the perimeter with ease and Colton Hayes unleashed a seeing-eye wrister from the left point that beat Hoffman short side to put the Eagles up 2-1.  Not be outdone, the Red Wings responded with a power play marker of their own just five minutes later, Zadorozniak from Redlick and Robinson at 15:44 of the second.  The second period would end with the score tied at two and each team with 7 shots in the period. 

Twenty more minutes just wasn’t enough for the Eagles and Red Wings as they battled to a scoreless third period.  Rosetown came up empty on two third period power plays and Brody Hoffman was busy making 15 saves in the third.  As the period pressed on, the teams became more and more careful, keeping attacks to the outside, not giving up the odd man rush.  The game was bound for overtime as it continued to tighten up.  This storyline would run through the first overtime as well and it wasn’t until the fifth period of hockey that the deciding blow was landed.  

ACHW playoff format calls for continuous 20-minute overtime periods until a goal is scored.  Old school sudden death playoff hockey.  No one left the arena and they were glad they stayed when the hero of the night was crowned one minute into the second overtime period.  Innisfail forward Justin Cox took a feed from teammate Ty Clay and unleashed a laser over the right shoulder of Hoffman to end the game and sweep the series.  Innisfail Eagles 3, Rosetown Red Wings 2 (2OT).

The Eagles will now head to the ACHW Playoff Finals versus the Lacombe Generals next weekend.  Stay tuned to the site for info on dates and times.

Although the loss is a disappointment to the Red Wings, they received the best news possible earlier this week which should serve to soften the blow.  Regardless of their loss in the ACHW playoffs, the Red Wings will attend the Allan Cup in April as Saskatchewan’s representative in the National Championship tournament.  Good luck to the ACHW’s Rosetown Red Wings in the 2019 Allan Cup!


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