WESTLOCK – Lacklustre special teams play, combined with a red-hot opposing goalie, spelled disaster for the Westlock Senior Warriors who were steamrolled 6-1 by the reigning ‘AA’ provincial champs, the Lacombe Generals, in their Oct. 1 North Central Hockey League home opener at the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC).
While the Warriors carried the play and held a 14-9 first-period advantage on the shot clock, it was the Generals who struck first, netting a powerplay goal with 1:55 to play in the frame.
In the second period a goal from defenceman Kyle Dronyk less than two minutes in got the Warriors back on even footing and gave them some life. Sadly, it didn’t last long.
The Generals regained the lead six minutes later then added two more, which included another powerplay marker, to end the frame up 4-1 — the second was decidedly chippy as both clubs amassed 40 minutes in penalties.
In the final 20 minutes the Generals added insult to injury and tallied two more to make it 6-1 as goalie Chase Langdale, who turned aside 29 of the 35 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
The score definitely flattered the Generals, who swept the three game-star selections, as the Warriors did have their share of chances but went 0-6 with the man advantage, gave up two powerplay goals during five kills, and actually outshot the Generals 37-35.
“They have a good powerplay so they’re a club you don’t want to take penalties against. And of course it would have been nice if we could have capitalized on the powerplay, but their goalie stood on his head … he did that to us last year in the playoffs, too,” said Warriors’ captain Mike Ivey.
“I think we outplayed them for the first half of the game, but they woke up and I think we ran out of legs. It didn’t feel like a 6-1 game, we controlled the play for big stretches but just weren’t able to capitalize. They were a tough team to face on the opening weekend, but we were excited for the challenge and now we look forward to facing them again later in the year.”
The Warriors get Thanksgiving weekend off before hitting the road for back-to-back tilts against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs, Oct. 15, and the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Oct. 23, then return to the RSC to host the Morinville Kings Saturday, Oct. 29, at 8:30 p.m.
“We don’t know what to expect as every year the teams add new players. Fort Saskatchewan lost their opener 13-2 to Morinville, but they only had 10 players so I expect when they’re at home they’ll have a full bench. They’re usually a talented team and we know it will be a good test,” said Ivey. “And then we head to Bonnyville on a Sunday night, so we’ll see what kind of line-up we can scrape together to get a win out there.”