Three times, the Quality Foods Oceanside Generals rallied from behind to forge a tie in Sunday’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
There was no coming back from the fourth time.
Jayden Schubert scored 52 seconds into overtime as the visiting Bucs skated away with a 5-4 win over the Generals at Oceanside Place Dec. 17, in the Gens’ final home game of 2017. The Generals close out the year with a road game at Comox Tuesday night, Dec. 19.
Still, the home squad did manage to snare a point against one of the VIJHL leaders before a crowd of about 200, the largest this season for a Sunday matinee at Howie Meeker Arena.
“It’s disapointing,” Generals head coach Jesse Hammill admitted. “But to take a point off the top team in the league when you’re down two going into the third (period); after how we started we gotta be pretty happy about that.”
Andre Sutter drew the Generals (12-16-1-3) into a 4-4 tie when he converted an Elijah Goyer rebound with 2:51 left in regulation. Oceanside previously rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 3-1 to tie the contest.
With the Generals skating on a power play over the final 1:35 of regulation, Max Creighton nearly gave the hosts their first lead of the game with a shot from the slot that rattled off the crossbar and down to the crease, only to bounce away.
It was a hotly contested rivalry game in which the teams combined for more than 100 penalty minutes and four ejections — including both starting goalies. Nanaimo (25-6-0-1) managed to amass 56 minutes in infractions despite playing a penalty-free first period.
The high volume of penalties did not translate to a wealth of special teams scoring. Nanaimo was 1-for-8 on the power play while the Generals were just 1-for-12 with the man advantage.
With the game tied 3-3 after the Generals got back-to-back, third-period goals from Carter Brown and Brodie Smith, Oceanside’s Trae St. Pierre and Nanaimo’s Clayton Peace were both issued two 10-minute misconduct penalties and ushered from the game. While play was stopped to sort out the infractions, Oceanside goalie Jacob Sweet and Buccaneers netminder Blake Wood skated toward centre ice, seemingly intending to fight each other.
On-ice officials stopped each player at his own blue line, and both were ejected with misconducts without a blow being thrown.
Nanaimo outshot the Generals 51-41, with more than half its shots coming in the opening period. Despite outshooting Oceanside 27-7 in the first, the Buccaneers had to settle for a 1-1 draw after the Generals’ Grayson Weme scored in the final minute off assists from Will Norman and St. Pierre.
“At first we didn’t play great,” Hammill said. “Sweet played real, real well.”
The Generals outshot the visitors in each of the final two periods and overtime, though the Bucs managed to forge ahead 3-1 entering the third period thanks in part to a short-handed tally.
“It’s the same thing every time,” said Hammill. “We make those catastrophic errors, those little mistakes that cost us. Tonight I think we made four that cost us four goals.”
Brown, a defenseman aquired one week earlier, scored his first goal as a General just 45 seconds into the third to make it 3-2. Smith, who assisted on Brown’s score, then notched his own goal just 50 seconds later to tie it 3-3, with assists from Braeden Young and Weme.
Noah Kelly was left unchecked to give Nanaimo a brief 4-3 lead when he beat Gens’ backup goalie Spencer Deakin, playing in his first game with the Generals after being acquired from the Campbell River Storm. Sutter then returned the favour against Bucs’ backup Austin Dendl, an affiliate player who collected the win thanks to Schubert’s overtime goal.
“The kids battled hard while being down two goals,” Hammill said. “We had two chances to win there in the third and it didn’t happen. That’s hockey.”