The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals had Saturday’s hockey game right in the palm of their hand.
Then it got knocked into their net.
A fluke goal punched from the glove of goalie Wes Ellingsen proved the difference as the Generals dropped their fourth straight Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League contest, 5-3 to the Nanaimo Buccaneers before about 200 fans at Oceanside Place Arena.
With the Generals (5-13-0-1) trailing 2-1 early in the third period, Ellingsen stopped a shot from the circle by Nanaimo’s Billy Walters. The puck bounced off his chest to shoulder height, but when the goalie reached up and gloved it, the Bucs’ Trey Watson reached in with his stick and flicked it into the net.
As Ellingsen, teammates on the ice and the entire Generals’ bench protested, referee Kyle Raynor signalled the goal was good.
“I had complete possession of (the puck),” said Ellingsen, still looking for his first win as a General since joining the team two weeks ago from Portage of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. “The guy stuck his stick right in the glove and right in the pocket and pushed it. He was actually able to open the glove up and flick the puck in. He pulled my whole glove behind the (goal) line.”
The goal loomed large when the Generals scored just 24 seconds later on a nifty rush by Caleb Griffin, making it a one-goal game again.
The teams traded goals once more, with Nanaimo defenseman Cole Cripps finding a gap through a screen of traffic, and Oceanside blueliner Ezra Paddock answering with a one-timer off a sharp crossing pass from Landon Dziadyk, making it 4-3 at 16:33 of the final period.
But despite a vigorous push throughout the third, the Generals could not get the equalizer. Bucs captain Chad Bell completed his hat trick with an empty-net score with 52 seconds remaining.
Oceanside Generals defenseman Ryan Rae-Arthur, centre, is knocked off stride by a hip check from Nanaimo’s Dawson Heathcote during the teams’ VIJHL game at Oceanside Place Arena Saturday. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Nanaimo (12-11-0-0) moved above .500 for the first time since it won its opening game, and opened up a 13-point lead over the Generals in the VIJHL North standings.
The Generals, skating with just nine forwards due to a rash of injuries, return home Sunday to host Peninsula at
2:30 p.m. That will follow games Thursday in Victoria and Saturday in Comox.
“It’s a busy stretch here,” said Gens coach Gerry Bickerton, whose club traveled to face Kerry Park Sunday (late add: Kerry Park beat the Gens 6-3). “We’re five games in nine days. Credit to our guys, though. Being short-manned, we’re still putting ourselves in position to win these games.”
Bell opened the scoring just 49 seconds after the opening puck drop, and the 1-0 score stood into the first intermission.
His second goal, at 13:21 of the second period, immediately followed a six-minute stretch of penalty-killing by the Generals and gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.
“I always tell the guys, after you take a penalty it takes another minute or two for you to get your bearings back again,” Generals’ coach Gerry Bickerton said. “So there’s about an eight-minute stretch there in the second, and they basically score in that stretch.”
“Our emphasis was to play the third period 5-on-5, and when we did that we were able to take the momentum back. The blown call on that third (Nanaimo) goal ended up being the difference.”
Brandon Roberge drew the Gens to 2-1 with a key goal late in the second, a one-timer from the low slot after Griffin won a battle in the corner and centred a pass.
That allowed Oceanside to start the third within a goal, until Watson’s dig into Ellingsen’s glove upset the equation.
“I talked to the ref after (the goal) and said, ‘I am not upset, I’m just telling you what happened,’ Ellingsen said. I told him my piece and he said, ‘OK, I totally misread it; sorry.’”
Ellingsen made 42 saves as the Generals were outshot 47-36. Oceanside went 0-for-4 on the power play.