The Save-On-Foods Oceanside Generals are about to kick off their training camp this weekend after a busy off-season.
New head coach Jason Johns and general manger Lou Gravel have been hard at work, putting together a roster that they hope will give them the best chance to put together a winning team this season in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Looking to make this a team that the community can get on board with, Johns said he has had a “community first” mindset when it comes to the Generals.
“These kids are excited about getting their faces out there,” Johns said. “We’ve been wanting to connect with the fan base, get everyone excited about the upcoming season and introduce them to some of the talent they’ll be seeing out there on the ice.”
Some of those hoping to crack the roster this season have been out in the public eye at a wide variety of functions, including the Canada Day parade, Family Day at Winchelsea Elementary School and they even took part in a tug–o–war against any and all comers at Beach Day in Qualicum Beach.
The Generals also issued two scholarships, one to a Ballenas Secondary School student and one to a Kwalikum Secondary student, in the name of the Lukas Whibley Oceanside Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of it,” Parksville’s Jarret Weme said. “Being able to put on that Gens jersey and meet all the fans in the area has been a lot of fun so far. I’m really happy to be a part of it all and I’m excited to keep on doing it through the season.”
Another face that fans will be seeing a lot of is that of Brendan Bilotta, who arrived in town on Tuesday evening after a 22-hour drive from Fort Collins, Colorado.
Bilotta, who played his hockey last season for the Walpole Express of the Eastern Hockey League in the United States, said he is looking forward to skating for the Generals this season.
“I’m really excited to be here, really excited,” Bilotta said. “I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of the guys who are here and getting to know them, working on getting some chemistry going.”
“Coming to Canada to play hockey was something I really wanted to do and when I got in touch with Lou, things happened real fast so I’m real glad to be here.”
Bilotta joins David Anderson, from Santa Clarita, California, Austin Caktas and Jacob Longmore, both from Port Coquitlam, as some of the out-of-town faces looking to make the Generals roster this season.
Two more new faces will be arriving later this week, Keanu Gallegos, from Colorado, and P.J. Heger, from Traverse City, Michigan.
“It’s going to be a great camp, we’ve got a lot of good things planned,” Johns said.
“There’s going to be lots of chances for everyone to get to know one another both on and off the ice, so it’ll be good to see the chemistry start early.”