Oceanside’s short-benched Save-On-Foods Generals came from two back and scored four unanswered goals in the third period to knock off the North Division leading Nanaimo Buccaneers in front of a loud crowd of more than 320 at ‘the Place Saturday night.
A wide-open, fast-paced physical tilt between two hungry teams, the Generals finished the game just like they started — taking the body hard.
Nanaimo scored the only goal of the opening period at 13:12, and took a 2-0 lead 2:55 into what would be a rough second period. Oceanside’s Michael Fretz, recently dubbed ‘Fretzky’ by his teammates, fed the net at 9:33 for his team-leading 20th of the season to cut it to 2-1, and Nanaimo countered at 15:35 for a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Whatever Gens’ head coach and GM Brent Demerais said to his team in the dressing room during the second intermission had an impact as his squad dominated the final frame, striking for three goals in just under four minutes: McCulloch (Taylor Gray, Joe Chase); Cole Schneider (Joe Chase, Travis Flug) and Colby Lim (Carson McCulloch, Gray).
Flug (Noah Russi) nailed it down at 19:59 with a short-handed empty netter.
“I told them I could see some of the Nanaimo guys leaning on their sticks,” said Demerais. “They were getting tired so I just told them to keep getting it deep and take the body hard. We dominated them in the third,” said Demerais, adding “conditioning is a big part of the game, and when you have that extra gear late in the third period thats huge. It was a good character builder for sure.”
It was all Generals in the games’ three star selection with hard-charging Flug earning first, and McCulloch and Chase second and third.
Oceanside out shot Nanaimo 14-2 in the third and 33-24 on the night — Alex Mastrodonato stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced before Kiefer Giroux came in late in the second and picked up the win in net.
“All that was was to wake up the team — sometimes you have to shake things up a bit,” said Demerais.
It was the Gens’ fifth straight win, and it came against a Nanaimo team unbeaten in their last four games and 9-1 in their last 10.
The TSN turning point said Demerais came late in the second period when Larson “laid a lick’n” on one of the Bucs.
“The Nanaimo guy started it and Ethan finished it,” said Demerais.
As for the fan noise, Oceanside’s skipper confirmed “I actually heard them — it was good, and why not, Saturday night, great game. I think they saw a little bit of everything. Hopefully it gets the word out more.”
The pair of W’s lifts Oceanside to 12-14-2 on the season and six points back of the Buccaneers who have taken over top spot in the North Division at 15-12-2.
ON FRIDAY NIGHT in Saanich, Oceanside earned two the hard way by knocking off the VIJHL’s second place Braves 4-3 in overtime shootout.
The Braves were 20-4-1 going into the game, but they came up against a red-hot Giroux.
Flug scored unassisted 2:12 into that game, and Cole Schneider (Fretz) struck shorthanded at 13:18 to stake the Gens to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
The two teams skated to a scoreless second; Saanich cut it to 2-1 at 2:49 of the third, Fretz scored a short-hander unassisted at 3:14 to make it 3-1, and the Braves struck for two goals in just under two minutes — the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the game — to force overtime.
Fretz and Ethan Larson helped pull the win out of the fire when they scored in the three-man shootout; Giroux stopped both shots he faced for the busy win in net. Saanich out shot Oceanside 46-27 on the night.
The win, said coach D, “was all Kiefer. He was on fire.”
ICE CHIPS: The Generals were missing four starters on the shelf with injuries — forwards Riel Gibson and Matt Biagioni, and D-men Jesse Ursic and Ryan Buse. Gibson is expected to be back in the lineup this week.
Fretz was called up for his first-ever Jr. A game on Sunday and scored his first-ever BCHL goal with the Nanaimo Clippers in their 5-2 win over the Surrey Eagles.
GAME ON: The Generals are in action down Island at Bear Mountain Arena Wednesday night against the 18-13 Westshore Wolves, and return home to ‘the Place Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. start against the Campbell River Storm (6-21-2).