Generals face Islanders in VIJHL first round

Travis Flug knifes through the Cougars’ defence. The Generals close out their VIJHL regular season at home on Saturday and open the playoffs against Kerry Park next week. - James Clarke
Travis Flug knifes through the Cougars’ defence. The Generals close out their VIJHL regular season at home on Saturday and open the playoffs against Kerry Park next week.
— image credit: James Clarke

Matthew Dixon scored the only marker in the opening period but the Cougars clicked for four unanswered goals in the third and continued their dominance over the Save-On-Foods Generals with a 6-2 win at Oceanside Place last Saturday night in VIJHL action.

Fresh off their big team-bonding road trip to Alberta the week before, Oceanside responded Friday with a spirited, well-played 4-2 road win over the Campbell River Storm Friday night to snuff out their four game winless streak.

Hard-charging Brent Baltus led the Gens’ with his first hat trick of the year. Gens’ starter Kolding Larson was solid in net for the win.

“Our guys played with great energy and were rewarded,” said coach Dave Johnston. “They were a real good team Friday night.”

Saturday night’s game was a tasty pre-playoff appetizer of things to come — fast, entertaining hockey between two determined teams. Dixon buried a point shot on the power play with 3:17 left in the 1st and that goal sparked the Generals who looked to dig deep for another gear.

Connor Allison scored unassisted 25 seconds into the second period to make it 2-0 when he stole the puck deep in the Cougar end and buried a backhander top shelf.

The league’s top team however showed why they hold that distinction and countered with two second period goals of their own.

Victoria’s Sam Rice had some shake and bake going on as he scored his first of three third period goals four minutes in to make it 4-3 Cougars, and that was it as the Generals suffered their sixth straight loss on home ice.

“A couple power play goals, a couple bad bounces ... they’re a good team, but overall I was real happy with how our guys played ... we were right there with them,” said Johnston. “We felt good. Our guys played real well, two periods of excellent hockey. Our compete level was extremely high, it just kind of came unravelled a bit in the third.”

The loss, added Johnston, is another reminder that the games are 60 minutes long, “and the other side of that is that Victoria’s a team that’s been built to not only win our league but to challenge for the Western Canadians. They were close last year, and they got almost all their guys back (this year). They’re the number seven ranked team in western Canada right now.”

Victoria outshot Oceanside. The Cougars were 2-for-6 on the PP, the Gens’ 1-for-4. Kolding Larson was in net. Dixon was named the games’ third star. The Gens’ Kyle Vestby was given five and a game for his third period dustup with Vic’s Jacob Daughtry.

Earning props for their play on the weekend were the likes of Dixon — “he was our captain on the weekend and he played like a captain. He had a real good weekend.

Other standouts included big Joe Chase and hometown rookie forward Travis Flug, Baltus and Kyle Yamasaki.

“The big thing we want to take out of that game is to show that we can compete with them, and that’s the real focus for us coming out of the weekend. We played a really good game in Campbell River Friday night and we did a lot of positive things Saturday night.”

The Gens are down to their final two regular season games this week.

The Generals are on the road to play the Peninsula Panthers Friday night, and return home Saturday to close out the 42 game regular season sked against the Saanich Braves (7:30 p.m. start).

BRING ON THE ‘ISLES Oceanside’s boys of Jr. B open the 2011 VIJHL playoffs Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Kerry Park, and return home for game two of their best of five against the Islanders Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re excited, we’re healthy, and we’re more than ready,” Johnston said when asked how he feels about his squad’s chances in the post season.

“We’re a different team then when we went on the trip, and our guys are ready to go.”

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