The good news is the Generals turned in their best period of hockey so far this season on Saturday. The bad news is the two points are still up for grabs as the third period couldn’t be played because the Zamboni ruined the ice.
“It was disappointing … it happened to us last year too, we had to play the second and third periods in Victor Kraatz (arena) in a game against Campbell River.
“We dominated that period no question,” Generals’ head coach and GM Dave Johnston said Sunday, agreeing, “it was very important having our players gain confidence from coming back from such a lackluster performance.”
The Generals laid an egg down Island Friday and had their season-high five-game win streak come to a screeching halt when the Panthers struck for two shorthanded goals in the first period and added two more on the power play, en route to a 6-2 win.
On Friday Peninsula outshot Oceanside 46-30. On Saturday, the first period was even, but the Generals mounted a ferocious attack in the second and outshot the Panthers 24-4.
Asked what he said to the lads during the first intermission, Johnston paused and considered his answer.
“Let’s just say it was a fairly strong message.”
Fast forward to the end of the second and the mood in the dressing room was markedly more upbeat.
“Absolutely, and we couldn’t wait to get back out there (and finish it off),” said Johnston, agreeing that yes, “that was a real snap shot of our expectations, the structure in which we want them to play — obviously a big thing for us a commitment to the defensive side of the puck, to be very aggressive on the forecheck and to be committed to playing physical for 60 minutes.”
Peninsula opened the scoring 7:21 in on the PP, and Taylor Grobowski evened it up 1-1 with 7:36 left in the frame, which is how it stood at the first intermission.
It was all Oceanside in the second, as they executed the game plan to perfection — pushing the puck deep, taking the body, and completely dominating their opponents to the point Peninsula looked confused.
Cam McKarrick (Nick Bell) made it 2-1 Gens at 4:41, Riel Gibson (Josef Chase) upped it to 3-1 exactly three minutes later, and Connor Allison scored his fifth of the season for a 4-1 Oceanside lead. Peninsula got one to go late in the frame for a 4-2 Generals’ lead after 40 minutes.
The game was delayed and eventually called.
“He ruined the ice — it was unplayable and it was determined unsafe,” said Johnston, explaining, “something was wrong with the blade (on the Zamboni) and it cut about 12 to 15 grooves about an inch deep and an inch wide. They tried to repair it, but it just didn’t work.”
As of Monday, VIJHL president Greg Batters had not made a ruling on what happens now.
Still, what shouldn’t be lost on the Zamboni meltdown were those 20 minutes of hockey.
“Wow,” one Gens’ fan marvelled. “They play like that they can beat anybody, and I mean anybody.”
Worth noting is that Oceanside had to kill off three penalties in short succession and were shorthanded five times in the first period, which meant plenty of ice time for the Generals ‘shut-down line’ of Connor Allison, Justin Polischuk and Cam McKarrick.
Allison, 19, from Hillsboro, Oregon, is in his second season with the Gens. He had eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 41 games as a rookie last year and continues to make life miserable for the opposition.
“He was excellent for us — he’s relishing the role of centring our checking line,” said Johnston.
“We match him up against the other teams top line every night. I mean arguably he could be our first line centre based on minutes played.”
The Gens are now 13-14-1, eight points back of the North Division leading Glacier Kings, and tied for fourth overall with Peninsula.
Gens’ stalwart Kyle Yamasaki was named the VIJHL’s Player of the Week last week for his contributions of late.
The Generals take to the ice in Comox Wednesday night for their final game before the Christmas break and another test against their arch rivals the Glacier Kings.