Generals’ to build on rough season next year
"I’ve never had a season end that quick, ever, but boy we had a lot of banged up guys this year.”
Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals were swept aside in the first round of the VIJHL playoffs last week, losing their best of seven to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings four straight, and while the sting of defeat hasn’t faded completely, those close to the team sound pleased with what was the first campaign with a new board of directors and coaching staff.
“We never had a full squad all year,” Oceanside’s first year head coach and GM Brent Demerais confirmed when asked about the injury’s that hobbled his team out of the gate, and losing their starting goalie Kiefer Giroux “was tough. Alex (Mastrodonato) played pretty good, but Kiefer’s got a little more experience which is huge, especially for the playoffs.”
Comox also loaded up on some talented 20 year-olds who wanted to be part of the team’s hosting of Cyclone Taylor Cup.
“You know what, we played with the hand we were dealt. It’s a year under your belt and it gives you a good idea what you need to do next year, what kind of players you need to bring in to mesh with the good group of core players that are already there,” Demerais said this week.
If Demerais sounded like a coach looking ahead to next year, it could be because he feels like he has some unfinished business. He was brought in late in the process last spring and took over a team that was essentially picked for him.
As for next year, Demerais said neither he or the board of directors have made a commitment to next year, “but we’ll meet next week and go from there.”
“I want to come back,” he said easily, adding “they’ve been really good. Communication between the coaching staff and executive has been really, really good all year. They’re on the same page that we’re on, and at the end of the day there’s a lot of good things that happened this year.”
It was, he pointed out, “pretty much a whole new executive and coaching staff, but the thing is we’re all on the same page, developing the kids and trying to get them to the next level, while also putting together a team thats going to win more games during the regular season as well.”
Well known in Alberni Valley Minor Hockey circles, Demerais has been coaching minor hockey for 15 years.
“It flew by,” he said when asked his take on his first junior hockey posting. “I thought it was pretty good learning experience. I know more now and there’s a few things we might do differently next year,” he said.
Coaching young men he said, “was a little different, you sure have a lot of different personalities. As the coaching staff we don’t think we know everything, so it’s hard to teach guys on the ice sometimes that think they know everything in life, and those are the ones that don’t fit in with the guys that want to learn. I’m here to develop players and when I bring in the younger guys up I want to know our older guys will lead by example on and off the ice to bring these guys along.”
“Everybody has a job. There’s foot soldiers, grinders, not everyone can be the goal scorer so it all goes back to the kind of players that I’d want to bring in next year.”
“Grit, The guys that will go to the boards for you, that know their role. That’s huge.”
Through it all the Generals had four players called up to play junior A, and two players (D-man Ryan Buse, signed by the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Giroux, who left for the WSHL’s El Passo Rhinos) were signed by junior A clubs.
Demerais also had props for his two outgoing 20-year-olds who both battled hard in their final campaign with the Gens — forward and assistant captain Cam McCarrick, and D-man and team captain Joe Chase both played their final junior hockey games last Sunday.
“It’s going to be hard to replace those two guys; we got our work cut out for us recruiting, but like I said, theres a core of great players there — the type of team that we want.”
Demerais, it should be noted, was never once ejected from a game this season.
Asked his take on the state of the team’s coaching situation, Oceanside Generals Junior Hockey Club’s first year President/Governor Sylvain Giroux said “we haven’t actually made any kinds of decisions yet. We just wanted to let things settle down a bit before we look ahead to next year.”
Sylvain also said having that first year in the can “makes it easier on everybody next year.”
The Generals hold their annual year awards banquet next Monday.
ICE CHIPS: The club is already gearing up for the Generals annual spring camp slated for Oceanside Place June 7-9, “and I’ve already booked some ice for some games in August,” said Giroux.