A little stability on the roster has turned into a lot more consistency on the ice, as the Quality Foods Oceanside Generals posted their second straight win Saturday with a 4-1 win over Kerry Park in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League play at Oceanside Place Arena.
Logan Savard, recently returned from a three-month injury layoff, scored two goals for the second straight game and recently acquired goalie Tanner Douglas took a shutout into the final minute as the Generals (8-20-0-1) picked up two points in the first of three straight games going into the Christmas break.
“I think they’ve started to click as a team over the last two or three weeks, as we’ve gotten a bit healthier,” Generals coach Gerry Bickerton said. “We’ve got the same lines rolling out and they’re starting to work on things as units away from the rink. They’re definitely coming together as a team, and we’ve noticed it in the dressing room the last couple of weeks.”
The Generals, who turned over a large swath of their roster in trades in October and November, won despite not playing their best 60-minute game, according to Bickerton.
Douglas kept Oceanside in the game through a scoreless first period largely controlled by Kerry Park (10-19-1-1), and the Generals finally broke onto the scoreboard on a power-play blast from the point by blueliner Bekkam Willis at 3:15 of the second period.
The Gens made it 2-0 on another power-play score at 8:02 of the second, when Savard collected a delivery from Landon Dziadyk near the left post and stuffed it past Islanders goalie Rett Rook.
“That was huge,” Bickerton said of the special teams play. “The unit before the first goal had the same pressure on, but we had no traffic to the net. We were saying that on the bench — ‘Get traffic!’ — and the second unit went out there, we had two guys in front of the net and the goalie couldn’t see a thing.”
Oceanside Generals forward Stratton Pickett, left, tries to slip a backhand past Kerry Park goaltender Rett Rook Saturday night at Oceanside Place Arena. The Generals’ Brent Koch scored on the rebound. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
A charge to the net by Stratton Pickett led to the third Generals’ score of the period. After beating a defender off the left wing, Pickett drew a second defender as he crossed in front of the crease while trying to shovel in a backhand. Rook steered the puck back the way Pickett had come, only to find Generals forward Brent Koch skating in alone for the easy chip into the open side of the net at 14:03.
“I don’t think the first two periods were our best, but we were able to get enough to get the lead, and then in the third period we just shut it down,” said Bickerton.
Douglas, who improved to 2-0 since joining the club from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, lost his shutout after the Generals took back-to-back penalties in the final three minutes of play, allowing Kerry Park more than a minute of ice time with a 5-on-3 advantage. Oceanside killed the first penalty, but the Islanders’ Jordan Martin managed to lift a short power-play rebound over Douglas’s shoulder with 38 seconds remaining. The Generals were outshot 35-21.
“In the third period I didn’t think they had anything except that 5-on-3,” said Bickerton. “We played a simple, safe, defensive brand of hockey and didn’t get too individual. And that’s when I can really tell that a team is coming together, because they’ll sacrifice the offence to close out a win.”
Savard wrapped up the scoring when he collected a pass at centre ice from Ezra Paddock and skated across the blue line before depositing the puck into an empty net at 19:47.
Saturday’s game was followed by a Sunday matinee against Campbell River at Oceanside Place Arena, then a Monday trip to the Comox Valley to face the Glacier Kings. After the break, they resume play Jan. 6 at Campbell River.