The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals gave the Nanaimo Buccaneers something to think about if they end up playing each other in the first round of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Generals have made the league-leading Buccaneers work a little harder to earn the two points in their last couple of games and on Thursday day night, at the Nanaimo barn, they nearly pulled off an upset before falling 2-1 in overtime.
It was a tight-checking game and going into the third period, the score was tied 0-0. The Generals got the break late in the frame when Max Creighton, who was wearing a full-face helmet to protect the injury he suffered from an ugly slashing incident against Westshore on Jan. 27, netted a power-play goal to put Oceanside ahead.
But just a few shifts later, the Buccaneers responded, with Noah Kelly sliding home a tying goal. Nanaimo got a four-minute power play that lasted into overtime and made it count, with Seamus O’Toole getting open to deke the goalie for the game-winning OT goal.
Generals’ goalie Jacob Sweet was instrumental in frustrating the Buccaneers who outshot Oceanside 39-24. He turned away 37 shots.
“He (Jacob) was unbelievable,” said Creighton. “He made some of the most amazing saves I have seen this year.”
Creighton, who had 12 stitches on his nose and will need facial surgery once the season is over, said he didn’t want to miss the game.
“It’s my last year in the league and I just want to play as many games as I can,” said Creighton, who is the Generals’ top scorer with 16 goals and 10 assists. “The main worry was a concussion. If I had a concussion I wouldn’t be playing. But after I was checked by the doctor I got the green light to play. Definitely in the first period I was a little bit nervous. But I got over it.”
The Generals are back on the ice at home Saturday at Howie Meeker Arena. It doesn’t get any easier because they have to take on the second-best team in the league, the Campbell River Storm, at 7 p.m.