Backstopped by former Kootenay Ice goaltender Thomas Heemskerk, the Bentley Generals claimed the 2016 Allan Cup for Canadian senior men’s hockey supremacy Sunday afternoon in Steinbach, Man.
The 26-year-old Heemskerk made 44 saves between the pipes as the Generals eked out a 4-3 overtime win against the hosts and 2015 defending-champion South East Prairie Thunder.
Carter Rigby, another former Western Hockey League star, potted the championship-clinching goal with 4:13 remaining in the first overtime period. Rigby, 22, spent three seasons with the Kelowna Rockets before wrapping up his major junior career with the Swift Current Broncos (2011-12 to 2014-15).
Heemskerk isn’t the only Ice alumnus a member of the Allan Cup champions, as 33-year-old forward Kyle Sheen is also a member of the Generals, though didn’t suit up in the championship game.
The Bentley Generals were founded in 1999 and are members of the five-team Senior AAA Chinook Hockey League in Alberta.
Including 2016, the Generals have appeared in seven of the previous nine Allan Cup finals, winning in 2009 and 2013.
Heemskerk, a native of Chilliwack, spent two seasons with the Kootenay Ice, seeing action in 45 games from 2007-08 to 2008-09. The 2015-16 campaign was his first with the Generals, following a three-season professional career.
Sheen, a native of Calgary, spent parts of five seasons with the Kootenay Ice, playing in 188 games from 1999-00 to 2003-04, before finishing his WHL career with the Kamloops Blazers.
Sheen has been a member of the Generals since 2011-12.
The Allan Cup was donated in 1909 by Sir Montague Allan of Ravenscrag, Montreal.
Alberta-based senior teams have laid claim to eight Allan Cup championships, including the 2016 Bentley Generals.
British Columbia has seen 11 Allan Cup champions. The most recent B.C. crew to win the national title was the 2010 Fort St. John Flyers.
In 1982, the Cranbrook Royals both hosted and won the Allan Cup championship.
In 1978, the Kimberley Senior Dynamiters both hosted and claimed the Allan Cup championship, while the 1936 Dynamiters also prevailed in the Allan Cup finale before going on to win the 1937 World Ice Hockey Championships.
The province of New Brunswick has been awarded the right to host the 2017 Allan Cup. The Kenora Thistles were originally slated to host the senior tournament, but the club folded in January 2016. New Brunswick is in the process of selecting a host club from the North East Senior Hockey League.