It’s still early in the season, but Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals have already served up a sample of the exciting brand of hockey fans can expect from the VIJHL team this year.
“I think this is awesome,” Oceanside Generals Jr. Hockey Club governor/president Sylvain Giroux said last week when asked about the full house that turned out for the team’s regular season home opener.
Attendance at the free night was up over last year, “and we seem to have a lot more young people out this year …we want everybody in the community to come out and have a good time.
“For a lot of the board members, last year it was our first year together, and we had a first year coach. It was a pretty new group, so we were trying to focus on getting the organization working, coordinating everything, and this year a lot of those things have been figured out now.
“We want to do more with the community with the players,” he said. “That’s one of our goals this year. Just trying to involve the players in community events.”
In the meantime the Generals, he said, continue to work closely with Oceanside Minor Hockey, with the emphasis on development.
“Actually I think that relationship is getting better every year,” said Giroux, whose two sons both played minor hockey in Oceanside.
“This year our coaches and myself and others we helped out with the evaluations for rep hockey, it’s actually pretty good.
In keeping with that connection any Oceanside Minor Hockey player with an adult gets into the Gens’ home games for free.
“We have a real good team this year and I think you might see a bit more excitement on the ice.
“For me, my philosophy is not really winning, it’s more (about) developing,” he said, pointing out “as much as I hate losing, my kids’ a goalie and I hate when he gets scored on, at the same time I want to see these guys develop. We’ve got a younger team, and I want to see these guys get better and better.
While the Generals do have more 20-year-olds on the team this year — they’re carrying four right now — they also have 13 17-year-olds, and Parksville’s rookie forward Brodie Smith, 16, who came up through OMHA, is playing his first season of junior hockey with the hometown club.
“As long as they’re out there and we have a coach that can motivate these guys to work and work hard, that’s all we’re asking,” said Giroux.
The Generals are on the road for two games this week and return home to Oceanside Place Sunday to tangle with the Peninsula Panthers. Puck drops at 2:30 p.m.
SKATE WITH THE GENS
The Oceanside Generals are extending an invitation to the join them for free skating sessions at Oceanside Place.
Meet the players, join in a small scrimmage, put your name in for game admission draws and more.
The first free skate goes Sat., Oct. 6, and is a Breast Cancer Awareness Skate, so wear pink to show your support.
The second free skate is Sat, Jan. 12.
Both sessions run from 2-3:30 p.m. — admission is free as are skate rentals.