Oceanside Generals Owen McDonald (8) battles along the boards with Campbell River’s Colton Rhodes (3) during the teams’ VIJHL game Saturday at Oceanside Place Arena.

Gens close gap but fall to Storm, 2-1

Junior B hockey club returns to home ice Saturday as Nanaimo Buccaneers pay first visit to Oceanside Place Arena

The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals have gone from discussing effort to discussing puck luck in their ongoing battle with the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League-leading Campbell River Storm.

What they’re still not talking about is a win.

The Storm scored a fluke goal 28 seconds after the opening puck drop Saturday and went on to a 2-1 win over a Generals team that was competitive, but ultimately unable to get over the hump at Oceanside Place Arena.

“The last 40 minutes we matched them; we were even,” Generals coach Gerry Bickerton said after the Storm improved to 5-0 in the teams’ head-to-head meetings. “We had two or three great scoring chances that went right through the crease. They got their one bounce, we didn’t get our bounce, and that’s the way it goes.”

Saturday’s loss actually represented the good showing last week for the Gens (5-12-0-1), who suffered a 7-2 drubbing at Nanaimo 0n Thursday.

That allowed the Buccaneers (9-10-0-0) to move seven points ahead of Oceanside in the VIJHL North standings while solidifying their hold on third place.

“I told the guys in my opinion that was the biggest game of the year at that point,” Bickerton said of the Nanaimo game. “We’re five points back, with two games in hand, against the team we’re chasing. It’s the biggest game of the year and I thought we came up with our worst performance of the year.”

The Generals will get their chance to get it right Saturday when Nanaimo makes its first appearance of the season at Oceanside Place for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Oceanside Generals Max Creighton, centre, moves in on Campbell River goalie Chris Smith after beating defenseman Max Daerendinger during the teams’ VIJHL game Saturday at Oceanside Place Arena. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Both games were started by newly acquired goaltender Wesley Ellingsen, who was signed after being released by Portage of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Bickerton said.

After being roughed up for five goals in the first 24 minutes against Nanaimo, Ellingsen was replaced by incumbent Matt Henwood, who stopped 18 of 20 shots the rest of the way.

But against Campbell River (17-4-0-0) Ellingsen was on top of everything the Storm threw on net over the final 48 minutes, shutting down the visitors after spotting them a 2-0 lead and giving his new teammates a chance.

It was the strongest sustained effort against the Storm by Oceanside, which suffered losses of 5-1 and 5-2 in two home meetings in October.

“We’ve got a few new guys,” said Ethan Sundstrom, who scored the Gens’ lone goal early in the second period. “I think it’s just playing a few times to get a better understanding what they’re about, being more prepared.

“I thought we could have had a few more bounces go our way, but it was a good effort.”

Sundstrom added a goal and an assist against Nanaimo Thursday to push his team-leading scoring total to 21 points on nine goals and 12 assists.

 

Storm 2, Generals 1

Saturday’s game opened with the Parkville Legion Branch 49 colour guard marched in by a piper in their annual Remembrance Day game appearance. A crowd of nearly 200 had barely settled into its seats when Campbell River was on the scoreboard, courtesy of a puck that Ellingsen saved only to have bounce off his own defender and back into the net.

The Storm then made it 2-0 at 11:41 of the opening period when Dawson Frank was able to shove home the puck in a scrum in front of Ellingsen’s crease.

Oceanside Generals Ethan Sundstrom, left, eyes Campbell River defenseman Trevor Bottomley as the puck flies overhead during the teams’ VIJHL game Saturday at Oceanside Place Arena. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Sundstrom drew the Generals to 2-1 when he converted his own rebound at 4:11 of the second period against Storm netminder Chris Smith.

“I got a nice pass from (Stratton) Pickett in front; didn’t score on it,” said Sundstrom. “The puck bounced around and went behind the net, and I just went to the backhand and put it in. Put it off his back and in; kind of a lucky one.”

 

Buccaneers 7, Generals 2

Oceanside actually jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Brandon Roberge 39 seconds into the game and by Sundstrom 31 seconds later.

But the Bucs had it tied up barely six minutes into the game and continued to pour on the offence while outshooting the visitors 34-25.

“We had a good first shift and created the first goal,” said Bickerton. “After that we created a rush and it happened to go in. Then we took that relaxed, ‘Oh, we got this. This is gonna be easy’ mentality, and look what happened.”

Cole Broadhurst had two goals and an assist to pace Nanaimo, while former General Cam Nickerson added three assists.

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