Sports

Generals’ Kiefer Giroux becomes a Rhino

Oceanside Generals
Oceanside Generals' starting goalie Kiefer Giroux, above holding the fort earlier this season, has made the jump to Jr. A in Texas for the El Passo Rhinos of the WSHL.
— image credit: James Clarke photo

“It’s kind of bitter sweet,” his dad conceded from behind the glass just as his boy made a nice blocker save. “We were hoping to have him for the playoffs, but hey...”

It was a week of unexpected changes for Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals, as their starting goalie, Kiefer Giroux, who would post a shutout and earn the games’ first star in a 5-0 VIJHL win over the Glacier Kings in Parksville last Saturday, is in Texas as we speak digging in at his new posting.

Giroux, at 18 the oldest of two local puck-stopping siblings, was called up to start for the El Paso Rhinos, a Jr. A club in Texas that plays in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).

Kiefer’s dad, Sylvain Giroux, is president/governor of the Oceanside Generals Jr. Hockey Club.

“Actually, I was pretty surprised to be honest,” Gens’ head coach and GM Brent Demerais said of the news. “We found out about just before the game started on Saturday night. It happened quickly,” he said, adding “I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Kiefer about the details — he left on Monday.”

The Rhinos are currently first in their division and third overall in the 22-team league at 28-6-2. Word has it they released their starting goalie because of off-ice issues. The Rhinos have one other Canadian on the roster — a forward from Surrey. There are also two Czechs in the lineup, one of them 6’7” 220 pound D-man.

The Rhinos have a great chance of participating in the Thorne Cup with the top four teams making it into the tournament. The team, which has its own rink and team bus, averages around 1,200 fans a game, and train and practice five days a week. The Rhinos hockey club also runs a youth hockey program for Mites to U18. Kiefer’s brother Liam played for the Rhinos U18 team last year, and had earned himself a spot on the Jr. A team this year but decided to return home for the season.

In an unusual twist, the local Jr. B club could in theory save some money on a new name bar, as Kiefer’s brother Liam will be called up from Major Midget League’s North Island Silver tips as the Gens’ new backup.

Six foot southpaw Alex Mastrodonato, 18, from Powell River, who has posted a record of 9-4-1 as a backup so far this season, steps into the starter’s role.

Liam Giroux, 16, in the meantime, has been playing Major Midget for the North Island Silvertips and was called up as a backup for the Gens once this season

“Oh yeah, we could use the same jersey — I mean it’s got the same name on the back,” Demerais confirmed with a chuckle, then pointed out Liam used their new #35 jersey when he was called up, “so we’ll have to see what he wants to do.”

ICE CHIPS: Known for his acrobatic flare and quick glove, Kiefer was 10-17-1 this season with the hometown Generals’ and second in the league in minutes played at 1,688. He faced 941 shots (third highest in the league) in his 28 games this season; was selected to the All Star Classic, and left with a goals against of 3.63 and a SV% 0.899. He was 11-4 with the team last year putting him at 21-21-4 overall as a Generals.

GAME ON: The Generals are down Island against the Peninsula Panthers Friday, and return home to Howie Meeker Arena Saturday (7:30 p.m. start) to tangle with the league-leading Victoria Cougars.

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