After suffering a narrow 3-2 loss against the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Thursday night, Sept. 7, the Quality Foods Oceanside Generals returned to the ice with renewed vigor to take on the Westshore Wolves two nights later.
Any bitterness from the loss to the Bucs, the Generals left behind in Nanaimo as they showed up in Saanich extremely motivated. It earned the Generals a 2-0 win against the Wolves, their first in the new Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season.
It was great reward for the hardworking Generals, who against the Bucs had blown a golden opportunity.
Playing before a partisan crowd at the Nanaimo Ice Centre, the Generals battled twice to even the match in the second and third period. They had momentum as they had a five minute power play past the midway mark. With the score tied 2-2, the Generals made a costly error at blueline that the Buccaneers capitalized on, scoring a shorthanded breakaway that eventually ended up as the winning goal.
“On Thursday, none of us came into the [Nanaimo] rink thinking it was going to be a 3-2 loss, let alone we have a chance to win this game,” said Hammill, after the game.
“I am happy with the way they performed. They didn’t quit. We’re going to get some confidence off this and build on it. If we continue to play like this we will be OK.”
The Generals’ two points in Nanaimo were power-play goals scored by Jared Winkel in the second period and Greyson Weme in the third. And they killed four penalties, including a five-minute major in the first period.
Against the Wolves, the Generals also scored twice on the man advantage — Andre Sutter and Koby Adams-Loitz — and were 9-for-9 in penalty kills.
Hamill said in both games, the two goalies, Aaron Jakubowski and Jacob Sweet, provided the highlight of the Generals’ defence. They were crucial in helping the Generals kill numerous penalties.
Against the Buccaneers, Jakubowski, who earned the second of the game, turned away 38 of 41 shots, while Sweet, who was awarded top star of the game against the Wolves, made 38 saves to record his first win and first shutout of the season.
“They were on the same team last year and they challenged each other,” said Hammill.
“Sweet last night, after watching Aaron on Thursday there, he came in super motivated. I think we’re going to have a goalie duel right to the end. These guys, they’re going to make it real difficult for the coaching staff to take a goalie each game because of the effort they’re putting in and they way they’re playing. That is nothing but good for us.”
Hamill said the Generals, who are now 1-2 in the league standings, are a young team.
This is a rebuilding year, but Hammill pointed out that they are learning fast and are confident about themselves.
“There’s going to be bumps in the road and there are going to be mistakes like the Nanaimo game where we gave up a short-handed goal for their winner,” said Hammill.
“But you know what, they are resilient. We were killing penalties and they just battled and battled. There’s no quitting, these kids. If we keep building on this we’re going to be good.”
MARCH ON: The Generals are back on the road on Sept. 15, travelling to Saanich to face the Braves at 6:30 p.m. The first home game for the Generals will be on Saturday, Sept. 16, against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings at Oceanside Place at 7 p.m.