The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals nearly blew away the league-leading Campbell River Storm in Saturday night’s barn burner at Oceanside Place before settling for a 4-4 tie.
The Generals had the game within their grasp as they led 4-1 midway through the third period. But the high-octane offense of the Storm proved hard to contain. After playing great defense for 50 minutes, the Generals had very little left in the tank to completely tame the unrelenting Storm, who eventually scored three goals in a row to tie the game 4-4 at the end of regulation play.
In double overtime, the Generals’ defense was again under heavy pressure when they had to play shorthanded late in the first overtime and in the first few minutes in the second overtime.
They weathered the Storm and split the point.
Head coach Jesse Hammill said they team was a bit disappointed to let the game slip from their grasp, particularly against the number one team in the Vancouver Island Hockey League.
“Campbell River plays a high forward there in the offensive zone,” said Hammill. “We did really good for 50 minutes of closing that down, even when they had sustained pressure. We kept them on the outside and we limited their real good scoring chances.
“Two shifts there, two young guys just got lost in the play and they capitalized. That’s a real good hockey team there. We thought we’ve gone and buried them 4-1. Does it suck that we gave away a point? Yeah. But you know what, we gained a point too.”
The Storm dominated much of the play and outshot the Generals 56-29. But the Generals’ defence stymied the Storm in the first two periods despite giving up the initial lead in the opening frame.
The Generals capitalized on their few good scoring opportunities to stun the Storm. They tied it up 1-1 in the first period when Lucas Vanroboys picked up a loose puck in front of the Storm net and slotted it in at 13:29.
Things were looking good until the Generals took a penalty late in the period. While killing the penalty, the Generals’ Max Creighton broke up a play near the Storm’s blueline and went on to score a shorthanded breakaway goal, unassisted, at 15:37 to give Oceanside a 2-1 lead.
The momentum continued to swing the Generals’ way in the second when they shut out the Storm while scoring another goal, netted by Greyson Weme at 4:03.
It looked like the Generals had the game in the bag when they found the back of the net again in the third period, scored by Jared Winkle at 11:52. But the Storm shifted to a higher gear and in less than a minute scored twice. Then, with the game winding down, they tied it up 4-4, forcing 4-on-4 play and then 3-on-3.
Hammill said the Generals simply ran out of gas.
“We were tired,” said Hammill. “They’ve put 56 shots on net, their putting pressure on us. It is what it is. The defense played really well. They were blocking shots. The one with (Logan) Archer there, two real big blocks, putting his body on the line. Doing what it takes to try and win the game.”
Another key to the Generals’ defense was their goaltending. Jacob Sweet was the last line of defence and kept the Generals in the game, recording 52 saves. He earned the top star of the game, with Creighton and Weme taking second and third star, respectively.
Had the Generals won, it would have been a rare double, as they beat Kerry Park Islanders 3-2 on Friday night at home. The tie against the Storm gave the Generals three valuable points to improve their record to 3-4-1. Against the Islanders, Vanroboys, Ethan Trampuh and Brandon Hannibal scored for the Generals.
Sweet earned the win between the pipes, turning away 28 of 30 shots. The Generals outshot the Islanders 48-30.
“It’s unusual for us to get three points and right now that’s as close to .500 as we’re gonna get,” said Hammill. “We got to keep building.”
The Generals will see action again on Thursday, Oct. 5, when they head to Nanaimo to take on the Buccaneers at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 7:15 p.m. Then on Saturday, Oct. 7, the Generals will host the Saanich Braves at Oceanside Place at 7 p.m.
Hammill expects both games to be another tough outing for the Generals. He said the team is gaining a lot of confidence and they still need to work on their offence.
“We don’t have a bona fide scorer,” said Hammill. “Those are really tough to find. But we’re scoring by committee right now. You look at our lineup right now and there are people that are chipping in. That’s the key.
“We will be working on some offensive stuff.”