The Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals earned a tie against the Kerry Park Islanders Thursday and suffered a tough loss Saturday night to the Victoria Cougars with their new head coach behind the bench.
Word came down after the game Thursday, a 3-3 tie against Kerry Park, that Chuck Kessler — brought in recently as an assistant and skating coach — would be the new bench boss. His first official game as head coach came Saturday when the Gens hosted Victoria and lost 5-2.
Thursday’s game saw the Gens and Islanders play to a 3-3 tie with the Gens’ debut of goaltender Joakim Jutras, a 20-year-old from Quebec, who stopped 29 of 32 shots and made several big saves to keep his new team in the game. Keagan Fedorko, a defenseman playing forward, scored his first of the season and AP Matt Davis, from Vancouver, scored two goals as they managed to put three of their 56 shots past Kerry Parks’ Leighton Williams.
The Generals were back at home Saturday night, taking on a veteran Victoria Cougars. Chase Gaudreault scored his first of the season before the end of the first period and Kyle Wade added a goal late for the Generals, but a three minute span in the third period saw the Cougars score three times to put the game on ice, handing the Generals their 12th loss.
“We’ve been practising well and had two great games this week,” Kessler said. “I think that our fitness level needs to be a little bit higher from where it is right now to really play the game that these kids are capable of doing and being able to compete out there.”
The Generals were only down by one goal heading in to the third, thanks to some big saves from goalie Jutras at key times. The defensive breakdown for three minutes in the third cost them, but the team is excited about Jutras.
“He’s been outstanding for us so far, real good,” captain Wyatt Meiers said. “To see a guy like that come in here and stand on his head the first two games and give us a chance to win, it’s a real uplifting feeling for us as a team. We still need to be better defensively in front of our goalies, regardless of who’s in net, to make it easier on them but he’s been solid for us so far.”
Still searching for their first win on the road, the Gens face the Nanaimo Buccaneers in Nanaimo this Thursday at 7:15 p.m. They host Victoria again Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Oceanside Place. Dominic Abassi has all the action on 88.5 The Beach.