The Stoney Creek Generals clearly aren’t the same team that stepped onto the ice back in November and December.
In 2013, the Allan Cup Hockey expansion team was shuffling its lineup and struggling to win at home, occasionally showing flashes of potential.
While dominating the two teams below them in the standings, the Generals struggled to find consistency against the top three squads, most notably the Dundas Real McCoys. After two 10-3 shellackings last fall, no one had owned the Generals like Dundas. After a surprising run in January that included a victory over then first-place Brantford, the Generals were arguably the league’s hottest team.
Despite their surprising run, which clinched a playoff spot in the team’s first season, the McCoys remained an enigma. Stoney Creek sat winless in three attempts against their inter-city rivals, losing the third match-up 5-4 in overtime back in December.
That all changed on Sunday.
Bolstered by Kyle Zettler’s hat trick, the Generals got off to a fast start and never looked back, beating the McCoys 5-1 at Gateway Ice Centre.
The Generals now have at least one victory against each of their five Allan Cup HockeyLeague opponents.
Along with timely scoring, Stoney Creek’s improved team defence makes them a serious threat heading into the playoffs. Goaltender Daniel Svedin turned in another solid game on Sunday, improving his record to 7-3-1-0. After establishing himself as the team’s bona fide starter, Svedin has compiled a respectable 3.52 goals against average in a league known for its high-scoring games. The Swede was less than three minutes away from his first shutout when Matthew Smith scored shorthanded for Dundas late in the third period.
Dennis Maxwell and Nikola Bibic scored Stoney Creek’s other goals and the Generals’ Matt Smith assisted on three of his team’s markers.
The Generals have settled into fourth place, just five points out of first. But with just two games to play, the team will likely remain in its current position in the standings. Stoney Creek clinched a playoff spot weeks ago, with a comfortable lead over fifth-place Welland.
As the host team for the 2014 Allan Cup, Dundas is assured a spot at the Allan Cup tournament, running from April 14-19 at J.L. Grightmire Arena. They will be joined by one other Allan Cup Hockey League team. That spot will be filled by either Whitby, Brantford or the surprising Generals.
To close out the regular season, the Generals will take on the league’s bottom two teams. On Sunday, Feb. 16, they entertain Welland. Next Sunday, Feb. 23, the Generals face off against Norwood. Both games begin at 2:30 p.m. at Gateway Ice Centre.