“The improvement is there, it’s just a matter of time until the Ws start showing up.”
The quest for more wins continues this week for Oceanside’s Save On Foods Generals, and team president and assistant coach Dean Henderson sounds confident the local squad is on the right track, and that last week’s back-to-back VIJHL losses — the Gens lost 7-2 to the Cougars in Victoria last Thursday, then came up short 3-2 to the Saanich Braves in Parksville on Saturday — are all part of the learning curve.
In the case of the Generals, call it the early season rebuilding curve.
Down-Island against the big cats Nov. 11, the Generals forced the issue early and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Kyle Yamasaki (Noah Russi, Travis Briggs) opened the scoring at 10:47, and Connor Allison (Colby Lim, Justin Pollschuk) upped it to 2-0 at 11:28.
Victoria cut it to 2-1 with 45 seconds left in the opening frame for a 2-1 Oceanside lead at the first intermission.
The Cougars scored two unanswered goals in the second period then added four more unanswered goals in the third; one on the PP and one shorthanded.
Victoria outshot Oceanside 35-23. Michael Gudmanson took the loss in net.
At home Saturday with Henderson filling in for Johnston, who was away with prior commitments, the Generals trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, then took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission off goals from Connor Enright (Taylor Grabowski, Yamasaki), and Joel Issigonis (Travis Briggs, Luke Tully).
Saanich snatched the two points with two unanswered goals in the third period to improve to 8-7-3 on the season while Oceanside slips to 7-12-1.
Saanich outshot Oceanside 33-29; Dylan Quinn took the loss in net.
Asked his take on the game and the direction the team’s headed and Henderson said “it was a good game (Saturday) first of all.”
“The boys worked hard, unfortunately we took too many penalties and it caught up with us. All in all though I felt the boys put in a great effort.”
The Generals had 10 penalties called against them — they killed off all but one — and the Braves had five.
As for the bigger picture, Henderson was quick to make the point “this group of young men is starting to come together now (after the recent shakeup that saw the release of their head coach and both goalies) … the improvement is there, it’s just a matter of time until the Ws start showing up.”
On the issue of special teams Johnston concedes “it’s an issue.”
Oceanside has the sixth worst power play (12.50 per cent), and sit last on the penalty kill at 74.14 per cent (they have also scored a league best six shorthand markers).
“It’s an area that we’ve been focusing on,” said Johnston, adding, “we’ve definitely seen some improvement, but we have a long ways to go. We didn’t spend much time on it at the beginning of the season, but it’s a critical area, and one that we will continue to improve on.”
Two bright spots on the weekend said Johnston was the play of local players Noah Russi and Nick Bell.
The Generals were in Mill Bay Thursday night against the Kerry Park Islanders and return to Parksville Saturday for the back end of the home and home. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.