Wyatt Meires of Team Blue

Wyatt Meires of Team Blue

Generals hopefuls take to the ice

Local junior hockey club welcomes 60 players to spring tryout camp at Oceanside Place Arena

In the coming season, the Oceanside Generals intend to place a team on the ice that will draw the community to its games.

The rest of the time, the team will go to the community.

“We want to get back into good standing in the community,” said Scott Bickerton, part of the new coaching staff that will guide the Junior B Generals into the 2016-17 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season.

“We want to be out in the community more, doing events and appearances. You’ll see the players out there, and you’ll see the coaches.”

Last weekend, the place to see the Generals was the Victor Kraatz rink at Oceanside Place Arena, where the club held its annual spring tryout camp for potential prospects.

About 60 players — including 12 goalies — attended the three-day camp, which included registration and practice Friday evening and a series of eight exhibition games compressed into Saturday and Sunday morning.

“The kids are getting good ice time,” said Bickerton, whose brother, Gerry Bickerton, takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant last season to Brad Knight. Chris Lennox a VIJHL veteran who played with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings “many years ago,” also joins the staff as an assistant.

Foster Martin of Team Grey tries to get off a shot from his knee after being upended by Seth Parker of Team Blue during scrimmage action in the Oceanside Generals’ spring prospect camp Saturday at Victor Kraatz Arena in Parksville. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Gerry Bickerton had to miss the camp due to a previously scheduled trip, but the assistants and returning general manager Rob Gaudreault kept close track of the players as they bid for a spot on a team looking to turn around a last-place finish in the VIJHL last season.

Along with the younger prospects, most of them from Vancouver Island but including a number from Northern and Interior B.C. and the Lower Mainland, the staff invited back returning players.

“We’ve had an opportunity to bring back a good number of our veterans, which helps because they’re trying to make the team, too,” Scott Bickerton said.

The newcomers and returning players were mixed together on four different scrimmage squads for a round-robin series of games followed by “playoff” finals Sunday.

“We’re looking to sign some of the kids right after this camp and bring them back for our main camp in August,” Bickerton said.

In addition to the goal of getting the team out into the public in the coming year, the program’s goals include advancing players into Junior A hockey and, of course, winning games, the coach added.

The Generals’ program has lost its sponsorship of recent years from Save-On Foods, but Beverley Yelland, president of the board of directors, said an earlier report that it had also lost its gaming grant was incorrect.

“We’ve been approved, and we have our gaming grant in place for this year and the next,” said Yelland.