The Oceanside Generals are excited about the coming Vancouver Island Junior Hockey season.
Head coach Dan Lemmon said the Generals have made some key trades and acquisitions during the off-season, who he feels will complement the players he expects to return to the squad this year.
“There’s a bit of a buzz around our team this season in town and around the league,” said Lemmon.
“I know coaches love to say this is a new beginning and a fresh start. But I truly believe we’re going to be a better team in all facets this season. Certainly on paper, with the roster that we’ve assembled so far, it is really looking good. It’s going to be a veteran team this year so there’s going to be more expectations.”
Some of the players recruited by the Generals during the spring camp included Sean Brendeland, Brett Arnet, Aidan Mailhot, Liam Moody, and Lochlan Willis.
The Generals held their main camp last week that featured more than 40 players vying to secure a spot in this year’s roster.
They went through fitness testing as well as scrimmages and sessions all throughout the three-day camp.
Lemmon said it was an opportunity for him and his coaching staff to scout the new players and also look at the veteran players’ conditioning at the camp.
“It was a good chance for our returning guys to prove that they deserve to be here as well as for the guys who are fighting for spots that are still up for grabs,” said Lemmon. “The expectations in any hockey camp, is you come in shape. We certainly will play close attention to not only how they do at main camp but also how they do at fitness testing to see who’s been putting the work over the summer. It’s really going to be competitive to get a spot in this team this year.”
One of the returning players is Qualicum Beach product Landon Dziadyk, who will be in his fifth year with the Generals.
He is one of the team’s prolific scorers, having recorded his 100th regular-season point last February.
Dziadyk feels they have the team that can go farther this year.
“We’ve picked up some great guys and it should be a good year,” said Dziadyk, who last year was the Generals’ top scorer with 24 goals and 12 assists. “We’re hoping to place higher than we have in the past and go for a run this year.”
As one of the veterans in the team, Dziadyk aims to serve as a leader and help the younger players build their confidence as the season progresses.
“I have been there and I know exactly what they’re going through,” said Dziadyk. “I may not be the talker in the room but all our veterans here are good guys who will help the young guys, push them and get them to gel together.”
The Generals will play two exhibition games against the Storm in Campbell River on Aug. 26 and on Aug. 31, will host Mission City at Oceanside Place at 7 p.m.