The Storm are looming this week, and Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals are looking to batten down the hatches and build on their first VIJHL win of the season.
The Gens are in Campbell River Friday night to face their North Division rivals, and return home Saturday for the back end of the home-and-home (opening face-off goes 7:30 p.m. both games) against the Storm, who are currently sitting second in the four-team North Division at 2-3-1.
Oceanside, 1-3-1, is tied with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings for third in the North, part of a three-way tie with the Kerry Park Islanders for last overall in the nine-team league.
Campbell River edged Oceanside 5-4 in overtime in the Storm’s regular season home opener in the two team’s only other meeting so far this year.
Gens goalie Liam Giroux stopped 51 shots in that one, and is expected to start both games this weekend.
Gens’ captain Travis Flug is off to a fantastic start, currently tied with two other players for the number four spot in VIJHL scoring with four goals and six assists in five games.
The Storm ice two players in the Top 10 in scoring — Brayden Taekema (6g, 3a), and Brendan DeVries (5g, 3a).
Dubbed the ‘twin towers’ when they were acquired by the Storm back in August as part of a trade with the Sicamous Eagles of the KIJHL, Devries, 6’2” 175 pounds, and Taekema, 6’3” 190 pounds, are both offensively-minded forwards that have combined for more than 200 Junior B points in the last two seasons, and both will be lacing up this weekend.
“We’re aware of them for sure,” Gens’ head coach and GM Brent Demerais answered when asked about the Storm’s leading snipers. “But I’m not too worried about the twin towers. We’re a much better hockey team then we were the first time we played them. We’re fast and we can play physical when we want to, and I think it’s going to be a good match-up. I like playing those back to back games,” he said, “especially against Campbell River. We’re looking forward to playing them, and we want to win both games, for sure.”
Contacted in Campbell River, Storm head coach Lee Stone said he’s looking forward to the weekend action.
“Any time you play a division rival it’s a heated game, and there’s no question that Oceanside and Campbell River have had some pretty intense games over the past few years, so I would imagine fans will expect to see something very similar to that,” he said. “At this point both teams know, especially in a home-and-home, how important the points are even though it’s early in the year, so I think it’ll be a battle right to the very end.”
In last Sunday’s win, the Generals potted only their third power play goal in 22 attempts for a PP percentage of 13.64 which is sixth in the league — a stat Demerais said he’s aware of but not overly concerned about.
“It felt good, really good — I thought the guys played hard and they deserved the W,” Demerais said of his club’s first regular season win — a 4-2 final over the Peninsula Panthers at Oceanside Place last Sunday in which they scored two unanswered goals in the final frame.
“We are working on the power play and I think we’ve had opportunities to score, we’ve had our chances. It’s coming together — we’ve been working on it. It’s just a matter of getting the right guys on the ice at the right time. We’re not so much worried about that right now . . . we’ll be fine.
“The young guys are really starting to come along, they’re finding their confidence,” said Demerais. “And like I tell them, it’s not a race, it’s a marathon.”
The Generals dealt winger Jamie Severs, 17, back to his home town Storm on Tuesday.
The Gens also parted ways with 20-year old Parksville forward Jordan Clark.
While Demerais was hesitant to go into details, he did say both releases were due in part to team chemistry.