Oceanside’s Save-On-Foods Generals close out their regular season campaign on the road this week, and the team looks to be on good footing as they head into the second season.
The local squad of junior B team is coming off a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the VIJHL’s first place Victoria Cougars at Howie Meeker Arena Saturday night.
On Friday down-Island, the Gens scored three unanswered goals in the third period and wrestled a 3-2 win away from the Peninsula Panthers.
The two teams played to a scoreless first-period tie in that one, and the Panthers scored twice in the second for a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes, but Oceanside’s Michael Fretz took matters in own hands and buried three goals — two of them in the span of 14 seconds — to steal the win and earn the games’ first-star award. Travis Flug chipped in with two assists and was named third star.
Oceanside out-shot Peninsula 13-6 in the third and 35-26 on the night. Alex Mastrodonato picked up his first win in net in the role of starter.
AT HOME against the Cougars Saturday, Flug scored eight-seconds into the game — James Sneddon won the opening faceoff which went to Cole Schneider who then feathered a pass to a streaking Flug who got in behind the defence and fed the net —for the early 1-0 lead which is how it stood at after 20 minutes.
The Cougars, who were 43-1-2 coming into the game, countered with two unanswered goals in the second, and had to hang on through a scoreless third for the win.
Victoria outshot Oceanside by period and 31-17 on the night. Mastrodonato’s solid 29 save performance earned him the games’ 2nd Star.
The weekend puts the Generals at 20-23-2 for 3rd in the North with two regular season games remaining.
Gens head coach and GM Brent Demerais
“I thought the game in Peninsula we had bus legs at the beginning of the game for sure, it took us a while to get going and we didn’t have much puck luck in the first two periods, but saying all that we dominated in the 3rd. Thats not something I want to see all the time,” he said, “but you know what, it’s good to know you can do that, and it wasn’t all Fretz, he had a real good supporting cast.”
Against the deep-benched Cougars on Saturday, the Generals may have come up short but they sent a message.
“We sure did. We were physical on them and I think it surprised them a bit …they were in a hockey game that’s for sure — I loved it,” said the Gens’ first year bench boss, adding “That was a total team effort, and win lose or draw, if our team plays like that every night I’m happy.
“We laid the body on them because a lot of the guys on that team don’t want to get into the dirty areas,” he said when asked about the barrage of body checks the Generals dished out that night “and that’s the way we need to play. When we play physical like that we’ll be tough to beat. Take the time and space away, get the forecheck in there and make them make that pass quick, and finish the check ….keeping the third guy high and just playing the system,” Demerais surmised. “We had great goaltending and I thought our defence and our forwards were communicating very well. I thought it was one of our best games of the year.”
The Generals are in Nanaimo Thursday for another statement game against the Buccaneers. The local team plays its 48th and final regular season game Saturday night in Kerry Park against the Islanders.
KP will lock up with Campbell River at Bear Mountain Arena on Sunday for a wildcard game with the winner grabbing the final playoff spot.
LOOING AHEAD to the first round of the VIJHL playoffs, Oceanside will open its best of seven North Division series against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in Comox next Tuesday, and return home for game two on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. start) with the next game Saturday in Comox, and then Sunday back at ‘the Place.