The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals picked up another Sweet win in Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League play Sunday, Dec. 10, at Oceanside Place in Parksville.
Goalie Jacob Sweet stopped all 31 shots he faced and the Generals unlimbered their offence in a 6-0 romp over the Comox Valley Glacier Kings before a matinee crowd of about 150 fans.
The toughest save may have been the last, when the Glacier Kings’ Justin Mirabelli broke free behind the Oceanside defence and bore down on Sweet with a breakaway in the final minute of play.
“I kind of have this jinx where I can’t get shutouts; I’ll break ‘em with a couple minutes left,” said Sweet. “So I see that and I think, ‘Uh oh.’”
But Sweet met Mirabelli at the top of his crease, then slid smoothly to his left as Mirabelli tried to deke and slip the puck through glove side.
“I followed him all the way and made the save, so I was happy about that,” said Sweet, who picked up his 10th win and third shutout — jinx notwithstanding — as the Generals (12-16-1-2) matched their win total for the entire 2016-17 season.
Brady Kay paced the offence with a goal and two assists. Mitch Cook’s first-period goal stood up as the game-winner, and Brodie Smith, Landon Dziadyk, Kyle Boshier and Max Creighton also found the net. Will Norman chipped in three assists as the Generals dominated the last-place Glacier Kings (3-25-0-1).
The Gens outshot the visitors 47-31 and went 2-for-8 on the power play while successfully killing all six of their penalties.
With the win, Oceanside bounced back from a 5-2 road loss to the Peninsula Panthers Friday night. Creighton and Dziadyk scored in the game, which was tied 2-2 before Peninsula ran away with three unanswered goals in the final 19 minutes.
“It was just a wake-up call the other night,” Sweet said of the loss at Peninsula. “We just had to get back on track, show teams what we’re worth. This game is all about having each other’s backs and plahying a full 60. I think we were a lot more physical (Sunday) than the game before.”
Sunday’s game was one of just two home contests for the Generals in December. They return home this Sunday, Dec. 17, to host the Nanaimo Buccaneers at 2:30 p.m., then close out the month with a Dec. 19 trip to Comox.
Over the past month the Generals re-aquired Smith, a 20-year-old forward who came up through Oceanside Minor Hockey and previously had two stints with the team. On Sunday the team debuted its newest member, 6-foot-3 defenseman Braeden Young, a physical defender who tallied 2 goals, 7 assists and 98 penalty minutes in 25 games with the Sicamous Eagles of the KIJHL.
“We’re pretty happy with this group,” Oceanside general manager Gerry Bickerton. “I’m not sure we’re going to make any moves before (the VIJHL trading deadline) Jan. 10. We felt we put together a good, young team at the beginning of the season, with guys who work hard and go into the dirty areas.
“We’re looking forward to keeping this as our core group for the next two years.”
Meanwhile, Sweet and his teammates are looking to close out 2017 on a roll and return from the Christmas break for the final push toward the postseason.
“I think a lot of teams in the league are just tired and want to get this break,” said Sweet. “A lot of our guys are still going; we just want to finish this last little bit strong and I think after Christmas we’ll be flying.”
Generals notes: Sunday’s victory was watched by a number of residents from Parksville’s Stanford Place care centre, who were hosted as guests of the Generals’ club. For this Sunday’s game with Nanaimo, all fans wearing Generals’ gear or Oceanside Minor Hockey apparel will be admitted free.