Dawson Heathcote, left, is back to lead the Oceanside Generals this VIJHL season. (PQB News file photo)

Dawson Heathcote, left, is back to lead the Oceanside Generals this VIJHL season. (PQB News file photo)

Parksville Generals face Nanaimo Buccaneers to open VIJHL season

Fans not permitted inside arenas due to COVID-19 restrictions

The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals will play their first Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game of the 2020-21 season Thursday night (Oct. 1) on the road against the Nanaimo Buccaneers.

The season will look vastly different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now all the games will be played without fans in the stands and the Generals will be limited to facing only the teams within its North Division cohort that include Buccaneers, Comox Valley Glacier Kings and Campbell River Storm.

The South Island Division, consisting of Victoria Cougars, Saanich Braves, Kerry Park Islanders, Peninsula Panthers and Westshore Wolves will stay in their group but down the road the cohort that will change, according to Generals president Gerry Bickerton.

“The entire cohort will need to have a two-week quarantine break,” said Bickerton, who added that it has been quite a challenging undertaking for everybody involved to get the league started and have all the required protocols in place.

RELATED: VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

“It’s been a wild summer,” said Bickerton.

The Generals play their first home game against the Buccaneers again at Oceanside Place on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Bickerton said there will be a limited number of people allowed inside the arena, that will mainly consist of referees, coaches, and players.

“We will figure how to manage that in the first few games and hopefully we can get some more flexibility to have more of our volunteers in the building because we’re going to be running a very tight ship right now,” said Bickerton. “It looks like we won’t be having fans for a while and it possibly could be all season, which is unfortunate.”

For fans, you can watch all the Generals games on HockeyTV.

Bickerton said the Generals this year will remain competitive.

“We have some really good young players that we’ve scouted that are coming in,” said Bickerton. I should hope they can make an impact right away. We do have a good core of vets coming back with some talents there.”

Leading the Generals offence this season is VIJHL top forward Dawson Heathcote, who was awarded the Brian Morrison Award. He collected 63 points in just 43 games.

Other veterans who are expected to be key players this season include forwards Aiden Sutherland, Greyson Weme, Trey Boylan Isaak Leik, defencemen Brandon Hannibal and Alekop Karamanis.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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