The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals are down 2-0 against the Victoria Cougars in their best-of-seven Vancouver Island Junior Hockey playoff series.
After a 3-1 loss in a heated match in Game 1 in Victoria (Thursday, Feb. 28) that landed head coach Dan Lemmon and assistant coach Scott Bickerton with three-game suspensions, the Generals hoped to get some payback Saturday night at Oceanside Place.
It was tough task without their head coach and some of their key players due to injuries and suspensions but the Generals nearly got the job done. They forced the game into double overtime but dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision.
The Generals had to fight their way back after the Cougars surged ahead 1-0 scored by Booker Chacalias at 5:08 in the first. Chase Heslop evened it up for the Generals after he outskated the defence in transition and beat Cougars goaltender Owen Sikke. The Cougars regained the lead at the midway mark after a shot by Cameron LeSergent got a lucky bounce that beat Generals goaltender Jacob Sweet.
The Cougars held on to their slim 2-1 lead going into the third period. But at 1:07 into the frame, Brady Kay netted the equalizer for the Generals, who came out strong in the third. The Cougars took the lead again when Matthew Clark scored unassisted. Victoria defended their one-goal lead but with time winding down, the Generals took a gamble when they pulled Sweet for the extra attacker. It worked, much to the delight of home fans, when Landon Dziadyk redirected a cross from Matteo Giomo that Sikke had no chance of saving to tie it up and force the game into overtime. Neither was able to score in the first overtime but in the second overtime, a crucial lapse in the Generals defence gave the Cougars the 4-3 win off the stick of Chacalias.
Oceanside general manager Andrew Riddell, who took over the coaching reins in Lemmon’s absence, said the Generals played with heart, determination and energy on Saturday night but made costly mistakes in defence that caused them the game.
“The Victoria Cougars have skilled players and the difference is when we made turnovers like that, their guys are going to score,” said Riddell. “We’ve got to be really smart and understand this on the ice. But we played a good hockey game tonight. A very good hockey game tonight.”
Riddell commended the Generals for stepping up without some of their key players.
“We played in double overtime against one of the top teams in the league,” said Riddell. “My opinion, tonight we were the better team hands down.”
There will be no rest for the Generals as they head to Victoria on Sunday, March 2, for Game 3 at the Archie Browning Arena at 3:30 p.m.
“2-0 in a best-of-seven series is never fun but like I told the kids, there’s no road maps in winning four games in a seven-game series,” said Riddell. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get it as long as your the team that gets the four wins. It’s going to take a little longer for us but I told the boys tonight there should be no negativity in the locker room after that game because we have nothing bad good things that happend out there tonight. Sure we lost tonight but we have to put that behind us get on the bus tomorrow at 11 a.m.”
In Game One, the Generals only scorer was Greyson Weme.
Game 4 will be played at Oceanside Place on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.