Jordan Harvey snapped a scoreless tie with a shorthanded goal and netminder Matthew Spencer-Dahl made it stand up with a shutout as the Oceanside Generals atom development team rolled to a 4-0 Division 2 playoff win over the Campbell River Tyees Saturday at Oceanside Place.
Facing the prospect of elimination with a loss, the Gens parlayed Harvey’s opportunistic rush in the opening three minutes, coupled with a stingy defence, into a trip to the Vancouver Island Hockey League divisional semifinals this weekend in Nanaimo.
“Our team is incredible when we get that first goal,” head coach Darren Earl said. “We’ve got a good defensive team, and when we get on the board first like that, it just motivates everyone.”
The young Generals needed all the motivation they could find as that one-goal lead carried through a scoreless second period and held into the third as the tension built and Spencer-Dahl continued to turn aside the Tyees’ shots.
But Mack Sanderson made it 2-0 when he converted off a Zeyd Boltakke assist at 4:24 of the third, and Cole Campbell and Dallas Earl added scores over the final 6:10 as Oceanside put the game away.
“This is a team with no superstars,” said Darren Earl. “They’re just a lot of hard-working kids that all support each other.”
The road gets even tougher this week with the final VIAHA competition of the season for the atoms at Nanaimo’s McNabb Arena. They will play in one of two semifinals Saturday, at 10:45 a.m. or
1:30 p.m. A win would lift the team into Sunday’s Division 2 title game at 1 p.m.
Oceanside finished third in the regular-season standings with a 5-4-3 record, and will likely play number two Peninsula (9-3-0), depending on results of last weekend’s other first-round game. Top-seeded Juan de Fuca (9-2-1) advanced with a bye.
“We’ve beaten everybody at some point in time,” Earl said. “But we’ve also lost to everyone, and some were pretty lopsided.
“If we’re skating hard and getting to the puck first, we play with a lot of confidence. But if we’re waiting back and we’re second to the puck, then we’re watching it go into our net. We’ve just got to come out hard and we’ll be OK.”