Oceanside’s Save On Foods Generals are feeling better about their game this week after bagging four of a possible six points in a busy, and most certainly bruising, VIJHL weekend.
“Three games in three days?… I’m getting tired and I’m not even playing,” Generals’ head coach Jason Dubyna cracked with a grin as he blew past in the tunnel moments before the start of Sunday’s matinee game, a physical 6-3 win over the Campbell River Storm that lifted the local Jr. B team into second in the North division at 2-5 with an overtime loss.
The Gen’s shook the monkey off their backs and earned their first win of the young campaign last Friday in game one of their three-game set — a hard-fought 7-6 final over the Braves in Saanich that took overtime to decide.
Back in action Saturday evening for the front end of a weekend double header at Oceanside Place, the Generals showed plenty of grit but dropped a 6-3 final to the league’s first place (and still undefeated at 6-0), Victoria Cougars.
“We did show a lot of grit, even when we were behind we still played hard,” said Dubyna. “They just had more firepower that night, but overall I was happy with our effort.”
The Generals bounced back with a big effort Sunday against the Storm, who dropped to 1-5.
“Today I thought we were a lot better at protecting the puck and taking advantage of the turnovers, attacking their net,” said Dunyna, and agreed that the team was “definitely more committed to being physical.”
For a team coming off back-to-back games, it was the Generals that had the better jump on Sunday.
“I was surprised at how much energy we had for the whole game today, which is good, it means the guys are in great shape,” said Dubyna.
As for Friday and his first win as a head coach, “oh yeah, it was a relief to get it,” he chuckled easily, and agreed the fresh recruits brought in also changed the complexion of the team for the better.
Homegrown D-man Nick Bell, who made his return to the team on Friday and was awarded the C, was one of three new faces in the lineup starting Friday.
“He did real good,” Dubyna said of Bell’s contributions his first weekend back. “Nick stepped in and made an immediate impact in the dressing room and on the ice.”
Seeing their first action on the weekend as Generals was hard-charging forward Taylor Grabowski, and Garett Kemmler, a shifty offensive minded blueliner picked up last week in a trade for Jaden Schmeisser.
ainst the Storm, Kyle Yamasaki (Travis Briggs, Ethan Larson) staked the Gens to a 1-0 lead 6:30 in with his team-leadingh fifth goal of the season; Taylor Gray (Luke Tully) made it 2-zip at 13:50, and the Storm cut it to 2-1 at 14:53.
Joel Issigonis (Riel Gibson) scored 2:04 into the second driving hard to the net. Taylor Grabowski (Briggs, Nathan Deyell) scored in similar fashion at 8:14 and Gray (Tully) hooked up at 9:39 to make it 5-1 Oceanside.
The Storm scored on the power play with 44 seconds left in the period to make it 5-2 Gens at the second ice clean. The Storm scored 5:56 into the third on the power play to cut it to 5-3, but Tully, the little engine that could and the games’ first star, closed it out with his second of the season. Taylor Gray earned third star honours.
IN SAANICH on Friday, the Bravces opened the scoring 17 seconds in, Taylor Grabowski tied it up at 6:10 with a shorthanded marker and Saanich made it 2-1 at 9:07 which is how it stood after 20 minutes.
Yamasaki (Briggs) scored 1:26 into the second to make it 2-2, Sannich went up 3-2 at 7:10; Grabowski (Briggs, Yamasaki) made it 3-3 at 12:03, and Saanich scored with 41 seconds left in the frame for a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
The Braves went up 6-3 4:14 into the third, and the Generals rallied for three goals down the stretch. Dylan Haugen and Riel Gibson scored back to back shorthanded markers in the span of three minutes, and Tully (Luciano Somerville) tied it up at 6’s with 22 seconds left in regulation.
Briggs salted the win 26 seconds into the four on four overtime when he banged home a Grabowski rebound from in close on the second shot of the period.
Oceanside outshot Saanich 56-46 including 27-10 in the third. The Gens were 0-for-4 on the PP the Braves 1-for-6.
Gens’ starter Kolding Larson stopped 31 of 36 shots and was replaced at the start of the third with Tighearnan ‘Tigger’ Marsh.
Larson bounced back Sunday with a solid 32 save performance.
“Winning the game today will do a lot of his confidence he had a rough couple games this weekend but he made some big timely saves for us today (Sunday),” said Dubyna, “especially in the first period, and he fought hard on some strong second efforts to keep the puck from going over the line.”
Standouts on Sunday included mighty-mite Tully, small in stature but a buzzsaw on the ice, who Dubyna says “has definitely brought his game up since the beginning of the season — he’s starting to get the puck more, forcing the play.”
Also earring props for his play was Briggs, who’s like a locomotive when he gets going, and the Generals’ leading scorer.
“He’s strong on his skates,” chuckled his coach, “he’s a thick kid and hard to push off pucks.”
First year junior Joel Issigonis from North Van continues to play hard “and contribute with his offence and with his physical play.”
Dubyna also pointed to the penalty killing pair of Haugen and Somerville who are not only killing penalties, but have also scored a short handed marker each so far.
The Generals for those following along at home have scored six short-handed goals so far this season in seven games including two in the one game.
Briggs, 19, currently leads the Generals with nine points in seven games, good for two goals and seven assists. Oceanside has three players with six points — Yamasaki is the leading goal-getter with five and a helper in six games played; Grabowski has 4g, 2a, in three games, and Tully 2g, 4a in seven games.
The Generals have only one game this weekend in Comox on Saturday against the Kings in a 7:30 p.m. start. Their next home game is the following Saturday (Oct.8) against the two-time defending playoff champion and reigning Cyclone Taylor Cup champion Peninsula Panthers.
“It’s good — we have like eight practices and one game in between, so we have lots of time to sort it out and get ready for them,” Dubyna said of the challenge.
Portland centre Conner Allison, who was with the Generals all of last year, has been released by the Jr. A North Battleford Stars on the weekend and will be back in the linuep with the Generals soon.