Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals upped their unbeaten streak to six straight Wednesday night with a solid 7-4 win over the Westshore Wolves at Bear Mountain Arena, but what bodes even better for the local squad of Jr. Bs was the sight of one of their top forwards, home-grown Taylor Gray, playing pain free.
The Wolves scored the only goal of first with 41 seconds left in the period. Oceanside scored three goals in the second to take a 3-1 lead, but the Wolves scored shorthanded with one second left in the period to cut it to 3-2 after 40 minutes. The Genesis-trained Generals found that extra gear in the 3rd again and nailed down the win with four more goals to Nanaimo’s two.
A solid win by committee, the Generals got goals from seven different players, as Nick Kapusty, Michael Fretz, Taylor Gray , Cam McCarrick, Riel Gibson, Keenan McConnell, and James Sneddon all fed the net, and five others chipped in with assists.
Shots on goal were even at 30 apiece. Oceanside was 0-for-6 on the power play, Westshore 0-for-5. Backup ‘tender Alex Mastrodonato earned the win in net.
It was another strong win over a team with a better record — Westshore went into the game five points up on Oceanside at 18-13.
The win lifts the Generals to 13-14-2 and has them within striking distance of .500 hockey and breathing down Nanaimo’s neck for top spot in the North division.
McCarrick was the games’ first star, and Fretz the second, but one of the bright spots of the night said Gens’ head coach and GM Brent Demerais was the site of his forward, Taylor Gray, turning on a dime.
Wednesday’s was Gray’s third game back and his first pain free in a spell.
Gray, 19, from Qualicum Beach, led the team in scoring early in the season but was sidelined with a foot injury suffered when he crashed hard into the goal post after going to the net against Nanaimo back in late October.
Gray was on the shelf for four games “and returned a little bit early,” said Demerais. “It was giving out on him so he wasn’t playing a hundred per cent, so we gave him another game off.”
Gray is currently fourth on the team in scoring with six goals and 13 assists for 19 points in 24 games having missed five games due to injury.
“It’s great to have him back,” said Demerais, adding “last night was by far one of his best games — his skating, he scored a goal. Remember, he couldn’t practice (when he was hurt), so he’s just getting back up to speed.
“He’s just so valuable to the team,” said Demerais. “He was one of the guys that really stood out in training camp. He was getting frustrated, very frustrated (with the injury), but he’s coming around, and that’s a huge bonus for our offence.”
Oceanside’s starting goalie, home-grown Keifer Giroux, was out of the lineup with a lower body injury over the weekend, clearing the way for his younger brother Liam, an AP with the Nanaimo Silvertips Major Midget team, who was called up to suit up for the Gens on Wednesday as backup goalie.
Forward Riel Gibson made his return to the lineup Wednesday after missing a couple games with a hand injury. D-man Jesse Ursic is still out with shoulder injury as is forward Matt Biagioni with a mild concussion.
The Generals are home at ‘the Place Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. start against the Campbell River Storm (6-21-2), and return home Dec. 22 to play the Nanaimo Buccaneers before breaking for Christmas.