The Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals were home Sunday afternoon for their third game of the week, and first after the release of head coach and GM Brent Demerais.
Demerais was cut loose by the team after Saturday’s 5-1 home loss to the Kerry Park Islanders, but the result was a familiar one Sunday, with the Gens being out-shot by a wide margin and coming up on the short end of a 2-1 final to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
The Generals started last week’s VIJHL sked with a 4-1 road loss at the hands of the Westshore Wolves.
Taking over as interim head coach is former assistant Rob Gaudreault, who had help on the bench Sunday from club president/governor Sylvain Giroux.
In keeping with the trend, Oceanside was out-shot each period Sunday including 21-8 in the second, and 50-22 on the game.
Rookie forward Drew Dancy from Nanaimo gave the home fans reason to cheer when he scored the lone goal of the opening period at 17:35 for a 1-0 Gens lead.
Comox scored on their fourth power play of the second period at 9:41 — Oceanside had previously killed off a 5-on-3.
The two teams skated through a scoreless third but Comox stole the win with 19 seconds left in regulation.
The Gens’ home-grown rookie goalie was outstanding in net and made at least a half dozen highlight reel saves to keep his team in the game.
Liam Giroux, 17, from Qualicum Beach, heads into this week as the VIJHL’s top rated ‘tender.
Worth noting is that no other goalie in the VIJHL has played more games (9); played more minutes (507); faced more shots (401), or made more saves (368).
Asked his take on Demerais’ release and the mood in the dressing room, Gens’ captain Travis Flug said: “I’d say definitely something needed to be changed. I don’t know if it was the coach or not but we seem slightly more positive which will be good going ahead.”
As for the slow start, Flug said the team is looking forward to turning their season around.
“It should be exciting. We’re getting all the losses out of the way right now so just wins are coming up.”
Sunday’s loss drops the Generals to 1-7-1-1 on the season and languishing in last place in the nine-team league.
After the game, G-Kings assistant coach Phil Brett, who used to coach Giroux on the Island Selects, said “we played good, and their goaltender played really good. Liam’s a good goalie and our goalie played really well too. We shot a lot of pucks and they just weren’t going in, but I thought we controlled the game pretty good. We’ve got some stuff to work on but we’ll take the two points.”
As for his first game behind the bench as a head coach in the junior ranks, Gaudreault said he was disappointed with the loss, but pleased with the effort his team put forward amidst the change.
“There was emotions on both sides, myself and the players.” he said of Demerais’ release.
“They said they wanted to win for him tonight, and they tried, but everything’s good, we’re going to rebound and the kids will do well.”
One of his first orders of business he said “is rolling the lines and trying to find combinations. We’re going to be doing that quite a bit coming up …I just want to see what kind of combinations can work together.
“We want to start getting in the positive side of the point collection here,” he said referring to the losses.
“I don’t want us to have a big hole to dig out of, but if the kids keep on working like they did tonight and we erase some of the mistakes in our zone, I think you’ll start seeing the points adding up.”
As confirmed by a press release issued by the club Sunday, “the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals have begun their search for a new head coach/general manager after Brent Demerais was relieved of his duties Saturday night.
“We want to thank Brent for his efforts — he worked hard for this club,” said Generals president Sylvain Giroux.
“But the board believes this season was getting away from us and wanted to go in a different direction. And we want to thank Rob for stepping in on an interim basis in a tough situation.”
Heading into action Sunday, the Generals had one win in their first nine games of the season. In just over one season with the Generals, Demerais’ record behind the bench was 21-32-4 in the regular season, 0-4 in the playoffs.
Giroux said the search for a new coach has started. The Generals have three practices this week and begin the October schedule with a game Thursday in Victoria against the South Division-leading Cougars, followed by a home game Saturday (7:30 p.m. start at Oceanside Place) against the North Division-leading Nanaimo Buccaneers.
The Generals made a couple big additions to the team last week. Playing their first two games with Oceanside on the weekend were local D-man Kade Pilton and forward Carl Provencher from Blainville, Quebec.
Pilton, a 6’5”, 210 pound D-man from Qualicum Beach, turns 19 in November. A former North Island Silvertip, Pilton played 72 career WHL games with Chilliwack, Victoria and Regina. He split last season between the Regina Pats (WHL) and Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL).
He carded with Surrey (BCHL) to start the season but reportedly didn’t want to play there. His best season was 2011-12 when he had 13 points in 43 games with the Victoria Royals (WHL).
Provenchar, 19, played last season with Ulysse Prep School, a member of the CAHS where he posted eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in 56 games.
A big body at 6’1” 185 pounds, Provenchar, who started this year with the Gloucester Rangers in the CCHL, “loves to play physical, he’s swift skater, will create lots of room for line-mates and is of superior size and strength at this level,” said Sylvain Giroux.
Check out Thursday’s paper for more on Pilton’s return to the home team.