The journey to national amateur senior hockey glory begins today in Lacombe, Alberta as six teams will fight to become the champions of the 2019 Allan Cup.
Saskatchewan will be represented at this year's tournament by the Rosetown Redwings. Competing out of Allan Cup Hockey West with three other teams, the club hosted the event last spring where they went winless with two ties in round robin play and lost in their first playoff round match.
The Redwings have never won the coveted national trophy and will be hungry to win it all with the event being not too far from the province. In order to become the fifth team from Saskatchewan to win the tournament, they'll need to surpass some tough opponents in their division.
The Stoney Creek Generals, who are last year's winners, are representing Ontario once again and are vying for their second Allan Cup victory. The Generals were able to sweep the final series against the Whitby Dunlops to claim the Robertson Cup to advance to the event.
Innisfail, Alberta's Eagles are a familiar foe for the Redwings; the Eagles managed to eliminate Rosetown in the ACHW playoffs a couple months ago before they lost out in the championship series to the Lacombe Generals. With British Columbia not taking part in this year's Allan Cup, the Innisfail Eagles and the Stony Plain Eagles clashed in a qualification series for a chance to win their way into the tournament. Going all the way to six games, Innisfail was able to clinch a spot with a 5-4 overtime win on March 23rd in Stony Plain.
The Redwings will have their hands full with Stoney Creek and Innisfail joining them in Division One. Rosetown and Innisfail will open the tournament at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon from the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex in Lacombe. Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. is when the Redwings will face off against Stoney Creek.
Three other teams make up the rest of the tournament that will be competing in Division Two. Atlantic Canada will be cheering for the Haut-Madawaska Panthers based out of St-François de Madawaska, New Brunswick who automatically earned a place as the only AAA Maritimes team. Last year's Atlantic reps, the Elsipogtog Hawks, missed the deadline to compete at this year's event, and Hockey Newfoundland announced there was no entrant to fight for the Atlantic spot this spring versus the Panthers.
For the sixth time in a row, the South East Prairie Thunder will take part in the Allan Cup. The two-time winners out of Steinbach, Manitoba are another difficult opponent on the schedule, and will prove to be a challenge to any team they face in the tournament.
Last but certainly not least, the host Lacombe Generals may believe they have the best odds to take the championship this time around. Momentum is on their side following their 2019 ACHW Finals triumph over the Innisfail Eagles to end the season before the national event takes place on their ice. The Generals have come up short of winning the title the last two times, losing last year's final to Stoney Creek and the 2017 championship to the Grand-Falls Windsor Cataracts in Boutouche, New Brunswick. Surely they'll feel like third time's the charm.
Round robin games commence today and will run until Wednesday. The knockout round begins on Thursday with the quarterfinals.
View the tournament schedule below.