It’s been well reported that the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals headed into the 2012/2013 season with a new head coach and GM, along with a new board of directors. Last Saturday’s VIJHL home opener at Oceanside Place, which saw the team honour its past and present, was by all accounts a great way to kickstart the campaign.
Out on the ice being honoured before taking part in the ceremonial puck drop was the team’s co-founder and first-ever coach, local realtor Rob Ohs, along with Save On Foods’ Bruce Brown.
After the opening ceremonies, both spoke with The News.
“Our inaugural season was 1990/91 but the planning for it started the year before,” Ohs recalled, explaining how they brought two of the best teams over from the Vancouver league – the Abbotsford Pilots and the Richmond Sockeyes – to showcase an exhibition game and gauge the support. “And we thought it was good, so we were off to the races.”
“There was no community-owned society back then,” he chuckled, adding “it was me and brother Brad and my buddy Mike.”
The way the story goes he says it was Brad and Mike that came up with the idea for a junior B team in Parksville. Rob was coaching minor hockey in Nanaimo, and at that time had aspirations of a career in coaching.
Rob played his minor hockey in Oak Bay, and never lost his passion for the game.
“I wanted to be a hockey coach — they asked me if I wanted to coach (the Generals) and I said sure.”
With the idea on the table, Ohs rustled up some sponsors, held a camp, and the team took form.
They had three or four locals on the team that inaugural season.
“The thing was, we drew from Nanaimo to Campbell River, we even had a couple Victoria kids playing on our team, so the talent pool was huge,” he said. “We were trying to win, right from the get-go. That first season, a 40 game schedule, we lost 10 games and finished in second place and two points out of first.”
The Generals won their first two playoff series that year and lost the VIJHL final in game seven against their arch rivals the Kerry Park Islanders.
Worth noting is that that year the Islanders were allowed to have up to four 21-year-olds in the lineup, while the Generals, as an expansion team, weren’t allowed any.See GENS, page A34
the old barn in the community park, and those first two years they drew crowds of around 350 on a regular basis “and we’d get 500 out sometimes for the Kerry Park games. Two o’clock, every Sunday afternoon, that was our ice time. Once practice a week, that’s all we got. It was a great season …we had some great players,” he said.
As for the origin of the team name, Ohs said that was right around that time Eric Lindros was making a name for himself in the CHL with the Oshawa Generals.
“We kicked around other names like Sand Pilots and Rats, and I think there were a few others, but the Generals seemed to be the popular (pick)…it was a different logo back then too, it was more of a trojan helmut kind of logo — it was kind of cool.”
The next season two teams folded, leaving the VIJHL with only three teams “and we were dominant,” said Ohs.”I mean we lost three league games that season out of about 36 games.”
To keep the team sharp Ohs said they brought in Jr. B teams from the Mainland, “and we even brought in the UBC junior varsity team; we paid for them to come over too; picked them up in our bus, fed them …we were serious hockey guys. We wanted to win.”
In keeping with their game plan, the Generals won VIJHL league standings that year and had a bye in the first round.
Against KP in the final, Ohs recalled how they went up three games to none in the best of seven series, and were dominating them with an accumulative score of about 33-3, “and they quit. They actually didn’t come back for game four. That was it, it was done, so we actually had about a month off before our (best of three) against the Nelson Maple Leafs (to see who advanced to the Cyclone Taylor Cup).
“We were rusty,” he said — the Gens lost game one 5-1 and game two 4-3, “and that was it. The last game I ever coached.”
Rob, 45 and married with two kids attending University, said he had a couple coaching offers after that second season with the Generals — he was shortlisted for positions with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters and a team in Grand Prairie Alberta — “and I was interested, but I had just started my career here in Parksville. I had a young family …I knew (the coaching route) was going to be a long, long road, so frankly I just decided to put my family first.”
Asked how it is he never returned to the bench for the team he helped form, and Rob chuckled and said “you know what, the fact of the matter is I was never approached. Not one time.
“I stayed away though,” he said, adding “we took it as far as we could — we were a killer team, I mean in two years we lost 13 league games. It was amazing.”
“I miss it all the time,” he answered quickly when asked if he ever pines for the bench.
“I don’t like the spotlight to be honest, but I think it’s great,” he said of the Generals recognizing their roots at their home opener. “And one thing I find really gratifying is that something we did as young guys, dreaming it up, and I mean I was financing road trips on my visa, literally, I paid for the gas in the bus, and drove the bus, so to see it still going — it’s awesome.”
ASKED HIS TAKE on the evening, Save on Foods’ Bruce Brown talked again about the relationship the local grocery store has formed with the hometown Generals.
“A great showing with the number of people here tonight, and that’s important to launch a season,” he said after.
This is Save On Foods’ fourth season as main sponsor of the team, and last Saturday marked the third year they’ve covered the admission for opening night.
“The whole message really is that this isn’t a sponsorship, this is actually a partnership with Save On Foods and the Oceanside Generals, and with the community, and that’s how we look at it, that we have a responsibility to give something back,” Brown said easily, adding “this is a great opportunity, and it’s exciting.”
The Generals also surprised Brown with an honorary team jersey.
“Very cool,” he smiled.
The Generals travel to Saanich tonight (Friday) to take on the Braves, and return home to ‘the Place Saturday (7:30 p.m. start) to tangle with the Victoria Cougars.
Maverick won the Men’s Open in doubles on Sunday with Alex De Cantel.
“There were tons of people from out of town,” said Hyde. “We had national team players and teams from all over BC, Alberta, Manitoba … we even had a player that played professional in Europe,” he said, pointing to Drew Venebels who is originally from Kamloops who played his university career in Manitoba.
His team finished second in the Triples.
De Chantel and Siglet won the Triples Open, and Alex teamed up with Maverick to take fist in the Open Men’s Doubles title. VIU teammates Alisa Wolf and Ashley Van Acken won the Women’s Open.
Parksville’s Nicolette Kipling was the top placing local, as she and her partners finished first in the Super Comp division for Triples. Many of the top finishers on the weekend compete in Oceanside Outdoor Sports’ long-running Wednesday evening Triples League in Parksville.
Hyde’s scheduled triples partner — Jamie Broder, who is also a member of the Canadian national beach team — was delayed and wasn’t able to make it after she and her partner qualified for the main draw at a big FIVB tournament in Finland. They ended up finishing 17th overall and in the money as the top placing Canadian team.
The number of players competing over the weekend was a bit higher than normal, “but again, the caliber was unreal. We also had a lot of new players out this year which was nice to see,” said Hyde, adding, “as much as we like to talk about the calibre, the tournament’s still designed for all levels of play.”
Last weekend’s Volleybash marked the end of the beach season in these parts.