Two new faces, two different styles of game. That’s what the Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals are looking forward to seeing from PJ Heger and Keanu Gallegos this season.
Heger, who hails from Michigan, has found a lot of similar qualities in Parksville to his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. For Gallegos, the differences between his large, suburban upbringing in Colorado make Parksville look like a tiny little town in the
middle of nowhere.
“It’s a big difference, for sure,” Gallegos said. “Growing up in such a large place and then coming here, it’s a big change. I like it here so far though. I’m living in Nanoose Bay and I’ve only been here for about 12 days, but I really like it.”
Both are on their first foray into Junior B hockey and have noticed a few adjustments, not only in the style of game, but little things like a visor on their helmets can be a big change for two players who’ve never donned a visor before this season.
“It’s a big change, having the visor instead of the cage,” Heger said. “It’s our first season without the cage so it’s been a bit of an adjustment so far. You can definitely see the game a lot better and it feels more free compared to the cage.”
And both are excited to be hitting the ice in a new city.
“I liked it a lot, it was a great atmosphere on the ice,” Heger said. “It’s a different kind of game out there, I’m used to playing against guys that are slower so it’s a good change.”
For Gallegos, who broke his wrist in the offseason, he was just excited to step out on to the ice and play hockey.
“I’ve been waiting, it was good to finally get going,” Gallegos said. “I couldn’t wait to start playing hockey again in some meaningful games, so it was good.”
Heger, who arrived a little over a week ago, has settled in nicely and has been enjoying his time away from the rink as well. Discovering some of the local fishing in the area, Heger, who had 52 points in 70 games last season, is enjoying his new surroundings.
“The first game was great, it was a great atmosphere to play in,” Heger said. “It’s nice to see such a big crowd come out for an exhibition game and hopefully that will continue.”
Travelling away from home to play hockey in a foreign land can be a daunting enough task, but throw in all the other changes too, like long distance conversations and time changes back home, there are a few things to adjust to not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.
“One of the things I noticed was coming off the ferry on to the Island,” Gallegos said. “I completely forgot about the change to kilometers from miles per hour, so it was a little weird when I was passing people on the highway. Eventually I figured it out but it’s just one of those things you have to get used to, being in a new place.”
Heger and Gallegos bring different styles to the Gens. Heger is more of a goal scoring player while Gallegos brings the much needed grit and physical game. Both players are excited about the change in scenery and excited to show what they can do at the junior B level.
“It’s just exciting to be able to play hockey, and to do it in such a nice place,” Heger said.