Reinforcements have arrived, and though still early in the process, as promised, the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals were a better looking team on the weekend.
At home at ‘The Place for back-to-back VIJHL tilts with a new head coach and five new players, the Gens gave their fans renewed hope.
On Saturday, the last place Generals got another outstanding performance from their 17-year-old goalie Liam Giroux and snapped an eight-game winless streak with a 5-3 win over the Campbell River Storm, who are tied for third overall in the nine-team league.
Back at it Sunday with newly-acquired ‘tender Evgueni Makarski from Toronto between the pipes, the Generals duelled the Comox Valley Glacier Kings to a scoreless tie through two-plus periods but came up on the short end of a 3-0 final.
On Saturday, the Generals swept the game’s three star selection. Giroux stopped 36 of 39 shots and was named the first star. Shifty new forward Wyatt Petryshen struck for two goals, including the winner, in his debut with the Gens and earned the second star, and QB blueliner Liam Peel was third star.
Sunday was the Glacier Kings’ third straight win. Peel earned third star honours for his efforts.
Comox scored what would prove to be the winner 5:25 into the final frame, then netted the insurance marker at 16:55 and added an empty netter as the buzzer sounded.
“I’m very impressed with the other side,” Comox head coach Joey Ewing said after the game. “I think with the new coaching and the guys they brought in, it was a whole new ball game for us. They’ve improved 10-fold already — we had a real hard time breaking through their defence today.
“I know (Dan) Lemmon, he’s a defensive guy, and he did a great job with them in only two practices, so I’m kinda scared for next time.”
Meanwhile down the hall, Makarski said “it felt good to get back out there, disappointed with the result though. We needed that W, but we’ll come back hard next game.”
His last game was about a week ago.
“It’s a pretty good pace out there, it’s a solid league from what I’ve seen so far,” he said of the VIJHL. “It’s been a lot of plane rides and a lot of sitting around the past week, so it was good to get moving again.”
After the game the Gens’ new coach Dan Lemmon said it felt good to be behind the bench and he likes what he sees.
“I thought both games the kids competed. We worked real hard; obviously with so many new faces in the lineup it’s hard to go over systems and what not,” pointing out two of the five new players got in one practice with their new team last week (his first week at the helm) and the other three jumped right in. “So I just wanted the kids to keep it simple and start from the defensive zone out. Obviously we gave up a few shots in both games but we tested our goalkeepers and I though both our goalies were really good this weekend.”
The Generals were outshot 39-22 overall Friday against the Storm, and 13-2 in the third period Saturday and 32-17 overall against Comox.
“Overall I think it’s a positive, positive, first two games, and we’ll keep working away at some systems and make sure these kids are ready to go for next week,” said Lemmon.
In the meantime, Generals GM Lou Gravel confirmed he’s hoping to have news of more new signings this week.
“All the kids are competing for jobs on the team right now and it’s nice to see. They’re all stepping up right now and all competing for spots, so it’s an exciting time for the organization,” said Lemmon.
“It’ll be nice to get a week of practice in with these new guys; seeing some tendencies and who can play with who. There’ll be a lot of movement in the lineup the next couple days.”
As for his new goalie: “Makarski played real good for us today. He kept us in it the entire game, he gave us a chance to win, and that’s all you can ask for. A very good start for him, and it’s good news for us because now we have two goalies I think are real good goalies in this league and can be a nice one-two punch.”
On Sunday, the Generals tailed off in the last half of the game and had trouble matching Comox’ speed, but that too is something Lemmon says he plans on addressing.
The 2-13-1 Generals are in Nanaimo Thursday to take on the North Division leading 12-2 Buccaneers, and return home Saturday to face the 5-8-1 Saanich Braves at 7:30 p.m.