Generals win game five: survive
Oceanside’s Save On Foods Generals have clawed their way back into their playoff series against the Peninsula Panthers with back-to-back wins.
Down three games to none in their best of seven Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) opening round set, it was win or go home.
The Generals staved off elimination in North Saanich Monday night when they skated to a decisive 7-2 win.
Back home at ‘the Place on Tuesday, Gens’ starter Michael Gudmandson stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced, while Oceanside’s offence levelled a season-high 50 shots on Panthers’ starter Stephen Heslop.
Ryan Coghlan (Travis Briggs, Jared Chinn) scored his first Gens goal and the only marker of the opening period. The two teams skated to a scoreless second, and Riel Gibson (Josef Chase, Justin Polischuk) scored what would stand up to be the game-winner 41 seconds into the third period.
Peninsula got one back on the power play to cut it to 2-1, and Jared Chinn (Kyle Yamasaki, Travis Briggs) nailed down the win at 5:23.
“Great game. I’m just really proud of how our guys heave bought in and stayed committed to our organization, and to each other,” said Gens’ head coach and GM Dave Johnston.
Down Island on Monday, Yamasaki struck for two goals and captain Nick Bell bulged the twine three times in just over six minutes for the first hat trick of his career to give the Gens a 5-1 lead in their ultimate 7-2 victory.
Oceanside outshot Peninsula 29-23 on the night.
Prior to that game, Generals’ coach Dave Johnston said he needed his top players to be at their best for the team to have any chance of digging out of their deficit.
“Big-time players play big time in big games, and that’s just what they did,” he said, pointing to the play of his two 20-year-olds, Yammers and Bellsie.
“Couldn’t happen to a nicer kid — it was awesome,” Johnston said about Bell’s three power play goals.
It was a result he said, “of perfect power play execution.”
Those three goals matched Bell’s career total to date. A solid stay-at-home style defenseman who has been shutting down other teams scorers for years, Bell had scored three goals in 128 Jr. Hockey games spread out over his three year career, including two with the B.C. Hockey League’s Nanaimo Clippers
That win, said Johnston, “was huge. It was really just about guys doing everything necessary to win.”
Ditto for Tuesday’s win.
“The one thing we talked about a lot was momentum,” said the longtime bench boss, “you either have it or you’re trying to get it back and that’s what we did — we just went out and got it back.
“Sometimes,” Johnston pointed out, “when you just work really hard and stay committed, the hockey Gods will shine on ‘ya.”
The two teams are back at it down Island today (Friday) for Game 6. Game 7, when necessary, is back in Parksville on Sunday. Puck drops at 2:30 p.m.