Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals kick started the 2013/14 season over the weekend when around 40 players hit the ice for the local Jr. B club’s main camp.
It is returning head coach Brent Demerais’ first shot at overseeing the team from scratch, and anyone that stopped at Oceanside Place on the weekend saw lots of up-tempo inter-squad action, complete with referees — one game Friday, two on Saturday and another Sunday.
“Very up-tempo. Good speed, good hitting. I’m really impressed with what we’ve got here this year,” Demerais confirmed when asked about the pace and the spirited play out on the ice. “I think we’re way faster than we were last year, we’re bigger, we’ve got a good mix going on.
“We knew what we had coming (to camp) so we just wanted to see what some of these kids could do on certain lines. Put them in different situations and see how they reacted,” Demerais said of the trial-by-fire format.
Also back for another season with the Gens is assistant coach Rob Gaudreault and longtime equipment manager Andrew Piercy.
The Generals are still looking for a team trainer.
Demerais said at this point he expects they’ll have about seven returnees this year, the most notable being homegrown forward Travis Flug, 19, who will wear the C for Oceanside this year, taking over the captaincy and looked upon for leadership.
“It’s great to have him back, he’ll be a mentor for the younger kids this year for sure,” said Demerais.
Flug was flying on Sunday, leading by example and bulging the twine for the White team.
Looking forward, the Generals will have a decidedly older look this year. VIJHL teams are allowed to carry six 20 year olds.
Last year the Generals only had two on the team, this year “we’re going to have six for sure, and we’ll have around 10 or 11 17-year-olds.”
Also in his element and clearly enjoying himself on the weekend was QB goalie Liam Giroux.
Liam had been expecting to battle his older brother Kiefer and a few others for the starting position, but that all changed last week when Kiefer made the decision not to play this season, opting instead to go to school.
Liam and Alex Olson from the Mainland, both 17, were both signed to the team on the weekend, while Powell River puckstopper Alex Mastrodonato, who was with the team in a backup and starter role last season, was released.
Also In his element on the weekend was Nanaimo’s Jonah Pearson. The 17-year-old forward is indicative of the kind of young players Demerais says he’s looking for. “Absolutely,” said Demerais. “He’s quick and he’s fast . . . great kid.”
Pearson was one of four players at main camp that spent last year in central Washington playing with the U16 Wenatchee Wild who compete in the NAHL (North American Hockey League).
“It’s fast really good tempo and I think we’re going to have a good team this season,” he said from the tunnel before heading back out on the ice with his new teammates Sunday. “It’s going to be great.”
In the meantime, coach Demerais said he’s looking forward to the start of practices this week, and points out the Gens could be missing as many as 10 players who have been invited to Jr. A camps.
GAME TO HELP FAMILY: The tragic death of local teen Lukas Whibley has been met with an outpouring of support.
“Our community lost a young man, and to support the Whibley family in such a hard time,” said Generals’ secretary Elizabeth Cudmore, adding “so many community groups wanted to help so we are organizing a silent auction,” at the Generals’ exhibition home game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers Aug. 31 (7:30 p.m. start). Go early to bid on various items with all proceeds going to the Whibley family. Admission to the exhibition game is $5, with the Generals donating proceeds to a scholarship fun in Whibley’s name.
If you’d like to contribute or volunteer, e-mail Megan Olsen at email@example.com or call 250-937-0999. Silent auction donations can be dropped off at PostNet on the Alberni Hwy.