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GM: Independent VIJHL will allow Oceanside Generals players more opportunities

Rick Hannibal says it will allow players different avenues to develop
Oceanside Generals players will get a chance to be affiliated in the BCHL this coming season. (Michael Briones photo)

Oceanside Generals general manager Rick Hannibal says players will have more opportunities for development following the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s decision to go independent for the 2024-25 season.

The VIJHL severed ties with Hockey Canada and BC Hockey.

It’s a decision that was reached by the 11 franchises of the league in April, following in the footsteps of the BC Hockey League, which left the Hockey Canada umbrella in 2023.

Hannibal said under the new structure, there will be more opportunities to give players from the Parksville Qualicum Beach area a chance to join the Generals this season. He also stressed the ability for Generals players to develop via the VIJHL’s affiliation agreements with higher levels or category of hockey.

“The players this year, they can become an AP (affiliated player) to the BCHL whereas last year we couldn’t,” said Hannibal. “They can play pretty much on any team. So, one night they can play with the Nanaimo Clippers and next night they can play over in Surrey for the Eagles. It’s just one of those things where they have an opportunity to do that. That part is really good for the players to play in the BCHL and perhaps make the team the following year.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League separating from Hockey Canada

The VIJHL’s status as a Junior A Tier-2 league, Hannibal indicated, would still be in place with the BCHL as Junior A Tier-1.

The Generals will have a new leader behind the bench, Marek Babic, a former professional hockey player with 11 years of experience playing in Europe. He is also a skills instructor and is entering his 14th season coaching hockey.

The Generals have posted an ad for an assistant coach to help Babic plan and train the players for the coming season.

As well, the club hopes to start construction of their own dressing room, which Hannibal said is still waiting for a development permit.

“It will be a place for players to have a home where they can store their gear and be part of something,” said Hannibal. “A lot of times there, they’re just packing up their gear, taking it home, sticking it in the garage. If there’s a billet home, they’re sticking it in there and in most cases I think some of the guys won’t take them out of the bag. We’re hoping to get this thing going. There’s a delay because of a parking study being done. We’re waiting for that and to get our permit and start breaking ground.”

Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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