Generals camp full of hockey talent
The pace was quick and the hockey was skilled during Sunday's intra-squad game between two teams of Generals hopefuls.
The Parksville-based Oceanside Generals Junior B hockey team wrapped up their weekend main camp Sunday with the White versus Red game, and opened the doors to the public, free of charge. A small crowd of hockey diehards were on hand to watch the game.
"They were all pretty tired," said Gens coach Brent Desmerais of the players, adding they were completing a busy, competitive camp, whose level of talent surprised him.
There are around eight players from last year's squad back on the ice, being pushed by newcomers from Parksville, Powell River, Nanaimo and Port Alberni, said the coach.
"Overall, the skill was a lot higher than I had expected," Desmerais continued, noting that is going to make his decisions tougher when it comes time to pare down the crowd to a roster of around 25 players.
"We were looking for players who are strong (on defense)," the coach said about what he and his assistant coach were looking for this weekend. "We do have a few, older 20-year-olds who are able to guide the younger players along."
Some of the younger players, however, were there to test the veterans. Desmerais had high praise fro Chandler Bruyckere, 17, originally from the Parksville area. Bruyckere played hockey at Notre Dame college in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.
"I was impressed by his play," said the coach. "He'll be moving on to the next level soon."
Desmerais had five goaltenders on the ice Sunday, giving each a chance to battle for one of the three spots with the Generals.
"We're looking for a solid goaltender," he continued, "two guys who can challenge each other and get along."
He added a Gen from last season, goalie Michael Gudmanson, might be coming back to the Island. Desmerais said Gudmanson is currently trying out for a team in North Battleford, Sask. but has indicated he would like to return to the Gens if that doesn't work out.
Sunday's on-ice action was a fairly even-sides affair, with neither the White nor Red squad dominating the play. The hockey was quick, passes were crisp and the players did have a lot of jump - for being tired. The game was not very physical, and that could be attributed to the fatigue of the players.
By the final period, the White squad dominated much of the play and ended up winning the competitive match, 8-6.
Now comes the tough work for the coaching staff. Desmerais said they must cut some players and fill out their early season roster. He estimates the Generals will carry 25 players into their Aug. 31 exhibition game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers, down in Nanaimo. This will be the Buccaneers first season in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
From that game, Desmerais said he'll be looking to whittle the numbers down to 23, prior to a January league roster cutoff date. That should bring the team to 21 or 22 players making the run to playoffs.
In the meantime, Desmerais will be looking for potential trades and other deals to help shape this year's Generals squad.
The Gens open their season on the road Sept. 7 in Campbell River. Their home opener is Sept. 8, hosting those same Campbell River Storm. They them host the Peninsula Panthers on Sept. 9.