VIJHL All Star Classic exceeds expectations
The VIJHL’s annual All-Star Classic came off without a hitch at Howie Meeker Arena in Parksville on Sunday and the 300-plus fans who attended were treated to an entertaining tribute to the league’s top players.
“The event far exceeded our best hopes and expectations,” a tired but upbeat Oceanside Generals Jr. Hockey Club secretary Elizabeth Cudmore said after the game. “Everything ran on time, the fans had a great time, as did the players. The organization is very proud to have hosted such a marvellous event,” she said, adding “it was a wonderful day for the Generals, VIJHL and the Oceanside community.”
The day started with the banquet at Parksville Community Centre which was emceed by Dave Graham with guest speaker Greg Batters, former NHLer and current VIJHL president. From there, the scene shifted to Oceanside Place.
The All-Star Classic was kicked off with a colour guard and tribute to the area’s emergency personnel (some of whom were on call), and Jessica Kelly sang the national anthem.
First up was the Prospects Game, a 9-6 shootout with Team South coming out on top.
The Skills Competition, Cudmore confirmed, “was outstanding.”
Oceanside Generals’ speedster Michael Fretz, aka ‘Fretzky’, had himself a day, and started it off by winning fastest skater honours (one lap around the rink) with a blistering best time of 13.7 seconds. Teammate Cam McCarrick won the fan favourite style points award and the North won the Team competition 6-3.
Two smiling young Oceanside Minor Hockey atom division players were also out on the ice — Kol Krastal represented the South and got to take a shot on Nanaimo Buccaneers’ goalie Cam Large in the skills competition, and Sam Jacobsen, with the North, went in on the Gens’ Kiefer Giroux.
The All-Star game itself was a fast-paced contest with the North winning 4-1. The game got off to an exciting start when Fretz, who would take home game MVP honours, was hauled down on a partial breakaway 44 seconds in and scored on the ensuing penalty shot to stake Team North to the early 1-0 lead.
The Generals are in Victoria Thursday to face the VIJHL’s first place Cougars and return home Sunday to host the Kerry Park Islanders (2:30 p.m. puck drop).