Sports

Midget Rep Generals tie, win a Tier 1 title

Anthony Buksa drives hard to the net against the Capitals Sunday. He and the rest of the Midget Rep Generals made team history Sunday by locking up the Tier 1 league title.                   James Clarke photo -
Anthony Buksa drives hard to the net against the Capitals Sunday. He and the rest of the Midget Rep Generals made team history Sunday by locking up the Tier 1 league title. James Clarke photo
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“We did it — no one can catch us now, so the league banner is ours.”

Oceanside’s high-octane Midget Rep Generals had to settle for a 2-2 tie against a stubborn Cowichan Valley Capitals team at home Sunday, but they still made team history by becoming the first local squad to ever win the Tier 1 league title.

Sunday’s tie at Oceanside Place combined with second place Nanaimo’s loss, secured Oceanside top spot.

Oceanside has won the Tier 2 league title before, but never Tier 1.

The locals went into the game sitting tops in the 8-team Vancouver Island Midget Rep League at 10-1 with three regular season games remaining and poised to lock up top spot.

“I just got off the phone about the Naniamo loss, we could lose our final two games and it wouldn’t matter in the standings,” a proud sounding Oceanside manager Glenn Wilson said.

The Generals and the Capitals both came to play and the good sized crowd of family and friends were treated to a physical, fast-paced game big on speed and board-rattling body-checks.

The two teams skated to a scoreless first period draw and Brent Douthwright staked the home boys to a 1-0 lead in the second period when he stood his ground and jammed in a loose puck down low.

Cowichan countered less than two minutes later on the power play.

Jacob Klassen blew in down the left side and delivered a perfect cross-ice pass to Michael Buerge who beat the goalie high stick side and lifted the locals to a 2-1 lead. The Oceanside players kept their foot on the gas and were controlling the play when the ‘Caps got one against the flow.

That goal sparked Cowichan and took the wind out of Oceanside’s sails a spell, but the Generals wrestled momentum back in the final five minutes of the game and swarmed the net, nearly scoring shorthanded twice.

Anthony Buksa was a force for Oceanside and made a terrific solo effort in the dying minutes of the game, swooping in on a Cowichan defender, knocking him off the puck behind his net and nearly stuffing it home.

The game ended with Oceanside buzzing the net.

“It was a tough game; it could have gone either way,” said Wilson. “Both teams had their chances ... we had some good opportunities to put it away, but their goalie came up with some big saves.”

Cowichan coach Ryan Trudgeon said his squad was fortunate to escape with the tie and praised the play of both teams.

The two teams, he pointed out, hadn’t played each all season, but have faced each other three times in the past three weeks.

“When you see each other that much you develop a hatred, you want to beat them that much more,” he said, agreeing “it was a very entertaining game. Very physical, very fast ... both sides played hard, and obviously our goalie kept us in it.”

“We played really, really well — I thought we dominated pretty much the whole game, the other goalie was just on his game,” echoed Oceanside head coach Louis Raymond, adding, “we’re really proud of our kids.”

“I think it comes form the kids just working hard and having fun, and it’s paying off,” said Raymond. “Now we just have to concentrate on the playoffs — we have our work cut us for us.”

Oceanside Minor Hockey is a Tier 2 association based on enrolment numbers, and as such the Midget Rep Gens will be competing in the Tier 2 playoffs, which includes Port Alberni and Powell River — two tough teams.

GAME ON

The Midget Rep Gens are in Comox on Saturday, and close out league play at home at ‘The Place Sunday at 1:45 p.m. against Juan de Fuca. Oceanside is hopping to have the banner presented to them at Sunday’s game.

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