It was trial by fire for four Vancouver Island Jr. Hockey League teams recently as they took to the ice in Fuller Lake for the annual pre-season tournament slash litmus test that has them playing three full games in two days.
Oceanside’s Save On Foods Generals opened the tourney with a gritty 5-3 loss to the defending provincial champions Peninsula Panthers.
“It was a great game,” said Generals’ GM and head of hockey operations Dave Johnston. “We played well, we just had a period of about six minutes that got scrambly and they made us pay for it.”
The Panthers scored three halfway through the second period to break open a 1-1 tie.
The Generals bounced back in game two that evening with a 7-4 win over the hometown Kerry Park Islanders.
The Generals closed it out Sunday with a solid 7-3 win over the Saanich Braves.
“Our guys played great,” said Johnston. “We’re a very fast, high intensity team, and the opposing defences, especially in the last two games, had a tough time defending our speed.”
“For sure,” Johnston chuckled when asked if the lads are bagged Monday morning. “It’s not only three games in a short amount of hours, it’s a training camp intensity with kids battling for their hockey lives. They’re exhausted at the end of it. No question.”
Playing three full games in two days is also a quick way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Johnston and Dubyna had 24 skaters and two goalies in the lineup. On Monday they released two players and signed 17 year old D-man Ethan Larson from Chilliwack who has impressed since opening camp.
“He’s a big body, six foot three, and he skates very well,” said Johnston.
To date the Generals have filled 20 of their 23 roster spots, with the following returning players committed to this season:
Back in the fold are forwards Kyle Yamasaki, Travis Flug, Dylan Haugen, Luciano Somerville and Travis Briggs, along with defensemen Keenan McConnell, Josef Chase and Jeff Bartel, as well as goalie Kolding Larson.
First year head coach Jason Dubyna said he was happy with the offensive output at Fuller Lake Arena.
“We had pretty even scoring throughout the lineup,” he said, adding “I thought it was a good start …they’ll need to be tighter as a team defensively, but I know that will come.”
The Generals open the VIJHL 42-game regular season Sept. 8 in Victoria and are home Saturday (Sept. 10) for their Save On Foods home-opener against the Saanich Braves.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Tailgate party out back of ‘the Place starts at 4 p.m.
“Live music, games for the kids, face painting, bar-b-que, beer garden …just a full-on Tailgate Party…it’s going to be awesome,” said Johnston.