Oceanside Generals Elijah Goyer tries to pry the puck from Saanich Braves goaltender Connor Svienson. (MIchael Briones photo)

Oceanside Generals Elijah Goyer tries to pry the puck from Saanich Braves goaltender Connor Svienson. (MIchael Briones photo)

Oceanside Generals need to tune up game for playoffs

Team wins two games but coach says they must sharpen defence

With the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs just less than a month away, the Quality Foods Oceanside Generals are still working on sharpening their game.

The Generals won both their matches last week but it highlighted some issues that they really need to quickly address.

They beat the Comox Valley Glaciers King 6-2 on the road on Jan. 31 but they gave up two quick goals in the first two minutes of the opening frame.

Scorers for the Generals were Aiden Sutherland, Greyson Weme, Landon Dziadyk, Cage Newans, Elijah Goyer and Foster Martin.

Then the following night at Oceanside Place, the Generals squandered a 4-2 lead in the third period, allowing the Braves to bounce back, tied it up and forced the match into 3-on-3 overtime play that also ended in a scoreless draw.

A shootout took place and the Generals won it when Newans and Isaac Leik scored. Generals goaltender Jacob Sweet saved the day when he stopped the Braves twice. He made 23 saves to earn his fourth win between the pipes since rejoining the Generals last month.

Head coach Dan Lemmon wasn’t pleased with how the Generals ended that game. Although it was a win, he wanted see the Generals play a more complete game.

“For the first time in a long while, they came out motivated and I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Lemmon. “But I think on the D-side of the puck, we need a lot to work on. We didn’t give up many shots in the first half but we gave up some good quality scoring chances and they capitalized.”

One instance was in the first period against the Braves. The Generals dominated offensively outshooting Saanich 17-1 for nearly 18 minutes, while scoring two goals by Dawsom Heathcote and Isaac Leik.

But in the last two minutes, the Generals took a penalty and the Braves pulled in goalie Connor Svienson.

On their first attempt, and only their second shot on goal in the first period, the Braves scored to make it 2-1.

The Generals were able increase their lead but were not able to sustain it down the stretch as they gave away three successive goals.

READ MORE: Oceanside Generals blank Kerry Park Islanders 4-0

Lemmon said he likes the way the offence is playing now as they’re creating some good scoring chances but, added that, they also can’t give them away.

“We have to be better away from the puck and closing out games in the third period when we have leads.” said Lemmon. “We need to know situational plays that need to happen for the team to win games. We’re still learning to get better at that.”

Newans and Greyson Weme were the other scorers against the Braves.

This weekend, the Generals face the leaders of the North Division, the Campbell River Storm at Oceanside Place on Saturday. The Generals are tied with the Storm at 55-point total, but Campbell River has a game in hand.

“Everyone should come and watch the game,” said Lemmon. “It’s going to be a barn-burner. It could potentially be for first place in the North. They are our rivals right now and the team we want to beat and the team we want to be playing in the playoffs. Like I said we still have a lot to work on but the positivity and the work ethics are definitely there and we’re showing we have a lot of heart.”

ICE CHIPS: Dawson Heathcote was given honourable mention for VIJHL Player of the Week. Heathcote collected five points in two games and was the star of the game against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. Heathcote leads the Generals scoring with 24 goals and 29 assists for a total of 53 points.

Junior B HockeyVIJHL

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