For the second time in five years, the Bentley Generals have won the Allan Cup, this time In front of thousands of their screaming hometown fans, claiming Canada’s 105th National Senior Championship with a 3-0 victory over the Clarenville Caribous in the championship game at Red Deer Arena.
The Allan Cup is one of the oldest club-team Hockey competitions in North America, having been first competed for in 1908. Only once in the past 106 years, in 1945, has an Allan Cup champion not been crowned.
Chris Neiszner broke a scoreless tie 14 minutes into the second period, Scott Doucet doubled the lead four minutes later and Keenan Desmet rounded out the scoring in the third as Bentley became the fifth host team in the last decade to win the national championship. Dan Bakala stopped all 35 shots he faced for the first championship game shutout since 2004.
The Generals, who appeared in the final for the fifth time in the last six years, went through the tournament undefeated, beating the Rosetown Redwings 2-0 and Kenora Thistles 5-2 in preliminary round play before a 3-2 win over Kenora in Friday’s semifinal.
Bentley won the Allan Cup in 2009, and lost in the championship game in 2008, 2010 and 2011. With the win, the Generals became the first Alberta team in the 104-year history of the tournament win multiple Allan Cup championships.
“It’s a fairy tale right now,” said captain Sean Robertson. “Awesome to do it at home. I’m kind of speechless right now.”
A huge part of the Generals, march toward history was their goaltender and tournament MVP, Dan Bakala.
“He was great,” said head coach, Brandin Cote, “To win a championship you always need good goaltending and he made key saves when he needed to and it’s pretty special to have a guy like that in our lineup.”
Bakala who started and won all four of the Generals’ games, recorded two shutouts, had a miniscule 1.00 GAA, and even scored a goal, could not believe his week.
“It’s a little surreal,” said Bakala. “It’s hard to explain, I’m still looking back on it.”
The win was a dominating display of the aggressive forecheck and cycle game the Generals have showcased all season, but this may have been their most complete effort.
“I think we saved our best game for last,” said Robertson. “We haven’t played a game like that all year.”
He wasn’t going to find any disagreement from his coach.
“We played a perfect game to be honest with you. The guys battled, we willed it, we just wanted it more. We just got it done at the end of the day, it’s awesome,” said Cote.
As the minutes and seconds ticked down, Robertson a member of the both 2009 championship team and the 2011 team that lost to the Caribous, could barely watch.
“I was down in the tunnel, I had to bury my head. You try not to think about it, but you have to. “
Though he claimed he was speechless, Robertson also may have described the championship feeling better than anyone else in history.
“This is something special, these are awesome human beings, I wouldn’t trade anyone of them,” he said. “You don’t know if you do it. It’s like when you set out for a goal and it means something, but when you accomplish it with good people who you need and help you along the way. You don’t drink this feeling.”
In 1999 the Bentley Generals Senior Hockey Club was formed by group of five individuals who had small dreams with an even smaller budget.
What began as an idea for a few of Bentley’s born and raised to resurrect a once proud local senior hockey team and play together again has grown to be one of the strongest and most successful senior AAA hockey clubs in Canada.
The growth and success that we as an organization have experienced can be attributed to many things but the basic strength of this club is the people within it.
We are blessed to have a large and dedicated contingent of volunteers whose common goal is to do whatever it takes to keep this team going season after season.