After back-to-back rocky seasons, the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals appear to have righted the ship.
At the end of last season, the Gens were basically given an ultimatum by the league to shape up or be shipped out. The club took those words to heart and made the steps immediately following their AGM, starting with the board of directors hiring general manager Rob Gaudreault.
From there, the effect trickled down to the team, something that had been missing in prior seasons.
“I’m happy with the team and where they’re at,” VIJHL President Myles Parsons said. “They’ve certainly turned everything around, which started right after their AGM. What I’ve witnessed is they’ve brought some people on board who are in the right places, which is working well for them. I’ve had several meetings with the board through the season, much like every other team, but they’ve been compliant with everything they’ve needed to be.”
One of the issues that came up at that AGM, along with the direction of the team, was the lack of competition from the team. Other teams in the league said there wasn’t much to the on-ice product, which wasn’t good for the league. That has changed this season as well for the Gens, as they started with a game plan from day one and have stuck to it, which the league has recognized.
“Brad Knight is doing a fantastic job with this team,” Parsons said. “They have become a younger, faster hockey team and somehow more competitive all in the same breath. They’re making a push to gain ground and move out from the bottom of the standings, which is great for everyone but the effort is there and you can see the way they’ve been going about their business.”
“Ultimately, this is a developmental league and that’s exactly what they want to do, develop these young men into great people. The hockey is just a by-product of what they’re doing.”
Going with a younger roster, including the fact that the Generals only have two players left from the last two seasons (Mathieu Jallabert and Cameron Nickerson), the team is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, team in the league.
With just four 20-year-old players and one 19-year-old player, compared to the Campbell River Storm and Victoria Cougars who have the maximum eight players ages 19-20, the Gens are stocking up on young players to develop over the next few seasons.
The VIJHL has heard from different teams regarding team rosters and will more than likely be going back to their old format.
“We’re looking at it really hard,” Parsons said. “We’re re-evaluating our decision we made with the rosters last season and we’ll be going back to teams only having six 20-year-old players on a roster. We’re looking for ways to entice younger players to come to our league, more 17 and 18 year olds playing in our league. It’ll do teams good and our league good too, which is what the Generals are on track for.”