There’s an old saying that suggests, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and for the Bentley Generals of the Chinook Hockey League (CHL), nothing could be closer to the truth. Well, almost nothing.
After cruising through the 2009-10 campaign with a near perfect record of 19 wins and one loss and capturing yet another regular season championship, the Generals opened the first round of playoffs against an old nemesis right where they left off last season — with a win.
The series opened on Feb. 15 in Bentley with a 4-3 victory for the home team over the Stony Plain Eagles but the Generals tripped a bit in Game 2 back in Stony Plain and rebounded nicely in Game 3 with a 5-3 win, ending the best-of-three affair.
The one notable difference this time around between the Generals and the Eagles is that the two teams met in the first round as opposed to their usual tactic of battling tooth and nail against each other right down to the wire and ultimately meeting in the league’s championship series.
On the other side of the ledger, the second-place Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs swept the Lloydminster Border Kings from the CHL playoffs with a 4-3 win on Feb. 16 and another 4-3 win three nights later, which set the stage for the league final between the Generals and the Chiefs.
That series began on Feb. 26 in Bentley where the Generals downed the Chiefs 4-2, but once again the Generals tripped a bit in Game 2 back in Fort Saskatchewan where they fell 4-3. That set the stage for a thrilling league final held last Wednesday night in Bentley where fans got their money’s worth as the Chiefs forced the Generals to double-overtime.
The two teams played through a scoreless first overtime period and almost made it through another before Sean Robertson found the twine at 16:27 from Kevin Smyth and Rob Hartnell, punching Bentley’s ticket to the national championship.
During the playoffs, the CHL announced their first and second all-star teams. Goaltender Scott Galenza got the nod as a first team all-star and was joined by defensemen Joe Vandermeer and Don Morrison. Up front, forwards Curtis Austring, who also won the league’s scoring championship after racking up 40 points with 21 goals and 19 assists, and Don Morrison who finished second in the scoring race with 14 goals and 23 assists, were selected.
The CHL champion will advance directly to the Allan Cup tournament, in Fort St. John, B.C. April 19 to 24.
In previous years, the winner of the CHL would play for the McKenzie Cup against the champions of the B.C. senior league.