VIJHL Playoffs start Tuesday
The regular season's in the rear view mirror and the Save-On-Foods Generals are geared up and ready to go for the playoffs.
The local squad of juniors closed out its VIJHL 48-game regular season with back-to-back road losses, but the team gets the mulligan as both were mean nothing games with starters out of the lineup.
Gens' head coach and GM Brent Demerais gave 6'4" D-man Jesse Ursic and Parksville forward Matt Biagioni the weekend off, and the team was also without their leading scorer Michael Fretz, who was called up to play three games with BCHL's Nanaimo Clippers.
The Gens dropped a 3-2 final in Nanaimo against the Buccaneers last Thursday, and lost 6-3 to the league's last place Kerry Park Islanders Saturday night in Mill Bay.
Against Nanaimo, the 'Bucs outshot Oceanside 15-3 in the second period and 44-22 overall. Gens' starter Alex Mastrodonato made 41 saves in a losing cause.
On Saturday, Thanvir Bandesha opened the scoring 93 seconds in to stake Oceanside to the early 1-0 lead, but the 'Isles countered with four goals for a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes. Oceanside's Travis Flug scored the lone goal of the second period to cut it to 4-2 after 40.
KP would score two more in the final frame, with Oceanside's Cole Schneider getting one to go in between.
Shots on goal were 38-34 for KP; homegrown goalie Liam Giroux got his first official start in net.
"They were mean-nothing games," Demerais said, "but it would have been nice to win. You could see some of the guys were holding back a bit, but you can't do anything about it now though.
"It's a new season now."
The Generals finish the regular season third in the North at 20-26-2 — five points back of the Glacier Kings in second at 22-23-3, and 16 points back of the Buccaneers at 27-17-4.
The first-year Bucs clinched top spot in the North the Thursday prior on home ice with a 6-2 win over the Westhore Wolves.
The Islanders, on the other hand, who shocked those same Buccaneers 4-0 at Cowichan Arena last Saturday, extended their season Sunday night with a wild 4-3 win over the Campbell River Storm, decided in overtime at the VIJHL's Wildcard Game and awards ceremony at Bear Mountain Arena.
KEYS TO BEATING COMOX
"Get the puck deep and lay the body on them — take the time and space away from their D-men in their zone," coach Demerais said quickly when asked what his team needs to do to win this best-of-seven, first-round playoff series against Comox.
Mastrodonato will get the start in game one on Tuesday and is scheduled to start in Parksville on Wednesday.
"I think we have a good shot of beating that team," said Demarias. "We need to get more shots on net with more guys going hard to the net. It's going to be good hockey. I think we have a little more depth than Comox. Play the body and finish our checks— find a way to win it."
"It flew by," Demerais said of his first regular season campaign behind the bench for Oceanside.
Demerais made the trip down Island to Bear Mountain Arena Sunday night to take in the VIJHL wild-card game — the Islanders will now face the Buccaneers in the first round.
On Sunday, the league also announced their year-end awards.
Oceanside's Fretz took home the Skills and Ability award, and The Wolf's Dominic Abassi was named Broadcaster of the Year.
The Generals open their North Division series against the Glacier Kings in Comox tonight (Tuesday), and return home for game two on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. start), with the next game Saturday in Comox, and then Sunday back at 'the Place.