“We knew it was do or die and that we didn’t want the season to end.”
Veteran forward Kyle Yamasaki was calm cool and collected in the tunnel after Sunday’s big playoff win, but he was a warrior on the ice on the weekend for Oceanside. He did his bit to help the Generals force a deciding game five in their best of five Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League quarterfinal series against the Kerry Park Islanders.
The 20-year-old forward from Nanaimo scored and added an assist on Saturday, and on Sunday he struck for two goals. Homegrown goalie Stephen Wolff was rock solid for his second straight playoff win to earn second Star honours, and Jeff Bartel was a buzz-saw to earn third.
In what seemed highly unlikely not that long ago, Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals rallied from two games down by posting back to back wins, forcing a game five showdown tonight (Tuesday, March 1) in KP.
Facing elimination after losing the first two games, the G-men responded with a 3-0 game three win on the road Saturday, and on Sunday made short work of the big bad Islanders with a surgical 6-0 shellacking.
In an assessment that carried over to Sunday, Oceanside head coach and GM Dave Johnston surmised the key to Saturday’s win “was that our guys just executed the game plan close to perfection. We’re so proud of how hard they worked and how resilient they were; they were finally rewarded for how well they played.”
Playing in front of a big boisterous crowd numbering close to 300 strong on Sunday, the Generals picked up where they left off the day before, and kept their foot on the gas.
The win snapped an eight game losing streak on home ice for the Generals.
“(Wolff) was stellar.” Johnston said of his 20-year-old goalie, adding, “as a team we were disciplined; we capitalized on the power play and we battled hard in all situations our guys competed level was at its highest and it’s going to continue to need to be there if we want to keep playing.”
Asked his take on the turnaround, a bewildered but composed Islanders’ GM Jim Knight shrugged and said “for whatever reason we haven’t played with any desperation the last two games — our compete level just hasn’t been there, but you have to give them (Oceanside) credit, because they’ve brought there’s up and we haven’t responded, but the beauty is it’s not over. You have to win three (games to clinch the series).”
He says he’s not all that surprised the series is going five, as the two teams played each other close all season.
“It’s alright,” he panned, adding, “now we’re the ones facing elimination, so we’ll see who has the stones to get it done.”
Anyone interested in hitching a ride on the Generals’ fan bus to Kerry Park to cheer on the Gens tonight can call Dave Johnston at 250-951-4848.