The 2019 Allan Cup, hosted by the city of Lacombe and Viking Projects LTD, is almost upon us. The annual senior tournament begins April 8th and runs until April 13th, the Championship game will be televised by TSN.
So far four teams have qualified for the six team showcase, the host city Lacombe Generals, Rosetown Redwings, South East Prairie Thunder, and the Haut-Madawaska Panthers.
Out of the qualified teams, the Haut-Madawaska Panthers are the only ones with no Allan Cup history while the Innisfail Eagles, who are still trying to qualify, have never been in the tournament before either.
The Innisfail Eagles, under the helm of Jack Adams Trophy winner Brian Sutter are battling the Stony Plain Eagles for the right to represent Alberta while the Stoney Creek Generals are playing the Whitby Dunlops for the final spot as representatives for Ontario East.
Both best of seven series are drastically different, the Stoney Creek Generals are one game away from sweeping the Dunlops, while the battle of the birds will go at least six games with the series currently tied at two each.
Now, some people may scoff about senior hockey but, when teams have names like Chris Campoli, Ian White, Tyler Weiman, Allen York, Shawn Bates, Brody Hoffman, Brennan Evans, Kevin Nastiuk, Peter Vandermeer, and Garret Bembridge just to name a few, it puts things into perspective: it’s not beer league.
If you need more proof, how about these stats for this years Allan Cup participants: 514 NHL games, 2,495 AHL games, and 362 DEL games worth of experience between the four current locked in teams, while another potential 2,589 AHL games worth of talent could be injected into the fray in the coming weeks.
Keep in mind that doesn’t include the Scandinavian leagues or ECHL and SPHL game experience, of which there is plenty. The Stoney Creek Generals even have KHL experience via former NHL player Tim Kennedy.
The Allan Cup has existed for over a century, 110 years to be exact. The Stanley Cup is the only older hockey championship in North America that’s still being competed for today.
The Ottawa Cliffsides won the first Allan Cup in 1909, last years champions the Stoney Creek Generals are hoping to become the first two time champs since the Warroad Lakers won a trifecta from 1994-96, yes you damn Yankees have even sullied our senior championship.
A few names that you MIGHT recognize that have recently competed for the Allan Cup: Rick Vaive, Theo Fleury, Pat Falloon, Geno Odjick, Trent Hunter and Terry Yake. This tournament is often the last chance for players to compete for a National Trophy of sorts.
That’s not to say it’s for older players or guys on their way out. Fayetteville Marksmen goaltender Nathan Perry, or Cam Maclise who now plays for the Jacksonville Icemen under an AHL contract, are prime examples. Perry started the year in Whitby while a few seasons back Maclise was on the senior circuit and hasn’t looked back.
As the tournament gets closer the teams in waiting are playing warm up games, the Rosetown Redwings will play a game against the Lacombe Generals in Wainwright this Saturday, while on Sunday, they’ll face-off against an All-Star team of sorts from current and past Saskatchewan senior hockey teams. We will have the inside scoop about the unique All Stars vs Redwings game for you later this week.
Also, between now and April 8th the Lacombe Generals still have to play a best of three series for the Provincial Championship against Innisfail or Stony Plain ( depending on who wins their series ) before the Allan Cup. If the Generals come out on top they’ll have won the ACHW Championship and the Mackenzie Cup, leaving them with one last trophy to win, the Allan Cup.
Be sure to check back with us in April as we cover the Allan Cup in it’s entirety, we will have coverage of every game including the finals and a few select post game interviews with some of the tournaments biggest stars.