The Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals go back to the drawing board this week after a couple hard-fought VIJHL losses.
Last Thursday in Nanaimo, the Gens went toe to toe with the red-hot Clippers and came up short 6-4 (it was a one-goal game until the final three minutes), and on Saturday at home the locals were blanked 2-0 by the Saanich Braves in a game that started out fast and furious but got bogged down by the zebras.
Both Saanich goals Saturday came in the second period.
In both games it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort, but the result was familiar Saturday night.
The Generals came out with their speedy skates on, forechecking, plugging up the middle, taking the body and playing dump and chase, but the Braves pushed back. At one point in the opening period, Oceanside had outshot Saanich 9-4, but the Braves had the 11-9 edge after 20 minutes.
“It’s definitely one I want to forget,” Braves’ head coach Brad Cook said after the game. “I mean we’re happy to get two points and keep a team that’s chasing us back there, keep ‘em at arm’s length. I thought our penalty kill was really good tonight, we took a lot of unnecessary penalties, and luckily our goalie was good for us again, but it was a weird night. I thought the refs were kind of off; not so much the penalties, but the flow of the game; taking so long to figure things out, not getting organized — I think it threw the game off for both teams.”
Both teams and fans as well.
When the play was on the pace was terrific, but with so many stoppages in play and so much time taken to talk about the calls, suffice it to say the fans were getting restless.
‘C’mon, I gott’a work tomorrow,” one fan shouted from the stands.
“We tweaked a few things, especially our forecheck, in the second (period).”
The Braves were slapped with 13 penalties and the Generals 10 in a grinding third period bogged down in long breaks between play. “We got a bit unorganized,” Cook said of the chippy third period.
“It was tough to see one of our kids kinda get hurt there, that can really distract (the players), but yeah, I mean the timekeepers were out, it was a weird, weird night.”
Hard-charging local rookie Brodie Smith earned the game’s third star honours for Oceanside. Worth noting is that the game’s first two stars on Thursday, both team captains — Nanaimo’s Noah Russi and the Gens Travis Flug — are both Oceansiders.
The Bucs’ led the Thursday game 2-1 after 20 minutes, and 4-2 after 40. Nanaimo outshot Oceanside 44-22. Liam Giroux was in net for the Gens.
Gens forward Jonah Pearson scored unassisted 2:37 into the third to cut it to 4-3; the Bucs struck four minutes later on the PP to go up 5-3, and Oceanside captain Travis Flug countered on the power play at 9:13 to put it at 5-4, but Nanaimo got the insurance marker with under three minutes remaining.
“I thought the game against Nanaimo we showed a lot of heart — it was a real character game for us,” said Gens’ head coach Dan Lemmon.
Against the Braves, one of the weaker teams in the South Division, “I thought we played well, I mean shots on goal were even for the first time (26-25 Gens) since I’ve taken over.
“We had some opportunities to score, we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” said Lemmon. “It was a physical game, lots of chirping between the two teams, emotions need to be kept in check and I thought we did that for the most part of the game.”
On the officiating: “they let things go and they let things go and it escalates …that being said you’re going to get some weird calls in Jr. B, you’ve got some inexperienced officials that are calling the game, so that’s a part of the game.”
“We played Nanaimo really, really tough — those guys had their hands full,” said Generals GM Lou Gravel. “It was a one-goal game until late. We didn’t back down. I’m disappointed with the way Nanaimo handled themselves — one of their guys jumped off their bench and jumped one our of guys — there were six Buccaneers on the ice when that fight happened.”
The league originally suspended both players at the centre of the fracas but the Gens appealed the ruling and the league reviewed it then rescinded the Oceanside player’s suspension.
“That was the right decision,” said Gravel, then made the point “What goes around comes around in hockey, that’s something that’s going to stay with us the next time we meet. I’m not saying there’s going to be fights, this is a 15 year old that’s never fought and that got jumped and took about 10 shots to the head …this is not the Jungle B anymore, but that said we’re taking the steps to fix our team. We’re going to be a tough team to beat every single night from now on — they’re not going to push us around. Those days are over,” he said. “There’s some character on the team now and these guys are going to stand up for each other.”
The Generals have added four new defencemen to their roster.
According to Gravel the Generals purchased the rights of Max Crawford, 18-year-old D-man from Comox who played with the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies last season.
At 6’3” 200 pounds, “he’s got good feet, he’s mobile, good size. He’s known as one of the toughest guys in the league.”
Last week the Gens also picked up 20-year-old D-man Ryan White, a Port Alberni native that played for Campbell River the last two years. Listed at 5’11” 185 pounds Gravel describes White as a solid stay at home blue-liner.
Two other D-men due to arrive today (Tuesday): Tristan DeSwardt, 18, 6’1” 190 pounds from Texas by way of the Brookings Blizzard of the NAHL and Louis-Patrice Giguere, 20, coming from Quebec City’s Jr., College league.
Crawford made his debut with the Gens on the weekend.
White will be in the lineup this weekend along with two other D-men due to arrive today (Tuesday), are Tristan DeSwardt, 18, 6’1″ 190 pounds from Dallas Texas by way of the Brookings Blizzard of the NAHL, which Gravel says is the second best Jr.A league in the US.
Also arriving Tuesday is Louis-Patrice Giguere, a 20-year-old coming from Quebec City’s Jr., College league and the captain of his team College Alma .
At 5’11, 200 pounds, “he’s a tank,” said Gravel. “He’s also a leader; he’s a mobile defenceman, he’s physical and he won’t back down from anybody. He’s coming here to push his hockey career.”
The Generals have also released two 19-year-olds: forward old Ryan Scott and D-Man Chase Anchikoski.
Now 2-15-1, the Generals are down Island Friday to tangle with the Peninsula Panthers (7-8-2), and return home Saturday to do battle with the 14-2 Buccaneers. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
“That’ll be a real good game,” said Lemmon.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.