It’s going to be a battle within the team for the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals this week as they have three games in four days, starting on Thursday against the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
The game itself will be a battle, but the Generals have their own internal battle if they are going to stand a chance in any of the three games this weekeend — staying out of the penalty box.
It’s been a common theme for the most penalized team in the league this season, having found themselves short handed 166 times, which is 20 more times than the next closest team, the Westshore Wolves.
Unfortunately for the Generals, their penalty killing stats are not impressive. The Gens are sixth in the nine-team league on the penalty kill at just a shade under 82 per cent.
They’ve also had their fair share of power play chances (161), which lands them in first place in the league and 26 chances ahead of the Campbell River Storm, who own the best percentage in the VIJHL on the power play at 25 per cent.
The Generals have the lowest percentage in the league with the man advantage at a miniscule 8.07 per cent.
“Taking penalties destroys everything we’re trying to do,” head coach Chuck Kessler said.
“It tires players out because we’ve got some of those same players killing penalties and when it’s back to five-on-five, they’re exhausted. Spending a lot of time killing penalties makes you more of a defensive team and it’s a hard thing to transition from.”
With the focus on trying to not end up in the penalty box and work towards being a more disciplined team, there are a few ideas of how to get back around to not taking so many penalties and taking advantage of being on the power play, instead of playing short handed.
“We need to take a more business-like approach,” Kessler said.
“We don’t have to go out there and play angry or hate the other team — we need to be more business-like in our game.”
“If we get knocked down, we need to get back up and get after the puck. If we knock them down, we need to keep that puck and put something on net to try and turn a takeaway into a goal.”
Thursday night will see the Generals taking on the Nanaimo Buccaneers at the Nanaimo Ice Center (7:15 p.m.). The Generals beat the Bucs 4-2 the last time the two teams squared off.
The Generals then play host to the Saanich Braves on Saturday night at Oceanside Place with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Sunday will feature a rare matinée game for the Generals, their second of this season, as they will play host to the Kerry Park Islanders (2:30 p.m. start).
The local team will look to gain some ground against the two teams sitting in front of them in the standings. The Generals have seven points on the season while Saanich has 17 and Kerry Park has 19.