The Quality Foods Oceanside Generals found a way to get back into the win column last week.
They beat the Campbell River Storm (the top team and defending champions of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League) 2-1.
It didn’t lead to a win streak as they lost the next day to the same team 3-1, but it was a moment the Generals savoured after enduring a six-game winless drought.
Playing in their new military-like jerseys, or warriors suits, as one fan described it, to commemorate Remembrance Day and honour soldiers who died for our freedom and members of the military, the Generals stunned the Storm, who have beaten Oceanside four games in a row this year prior to Saturday night.
New head coach Dan Lemmon said the Generals have been improving and that it was a relief to finally earn that win after losing successive six games.
“One of the stresses we’ve been making is that this is not a sprint. This is a marathon,” said Lemmon. “We’ve got to get better in every game. And I think for the better part of all six games, we’ve done that. The team is really getting closer together. Tonight’s win is a complete team effort and that’s what I am most proud of.”
The Generals played an aggressive game defensively and offensively. They played a physical game that slowed down the Storm’s usual fast-paced offence in the first two periods. They were able to grab the early lead which they defended going into the third period. They nearly blew it when they allowed the Storm to equalize at the 14:23 mark scored by Kason Furukawa.
Although tired and nearly spent, the Generals were able to find the net one more time when Jory Swanson sent the puck up to the unmarked Greyson Weme, who fired the puck from the blue-line that went in at the right-hand corner past the stunned de Kok. Following that, the Storm pressured the Generals defence hard and with two minutes left to play pulled the goalie for the extra attacker.
The Generals fought gallantly to deny the Storm and secure the win.
“We started forechecking hard on their d-men and we had two really good periods,” said Lemmon.
“Campbell River is a very strong team and they came out hard in the third. We showed a lot of resiliency by not only coming back when they scored but by just the way they were blocking their shots, our kids really wanted this game.”
Goaltender Jacob Sweet, who has been the Great Wall of the Generals, was solid between the pipes, turning away 39 of 40 shots to earn the top star of the game.
The next day, the Generals faced the Storm again in an afternoon matinée game. It was another close game but this time it was the Storm that came up on top with a 3-1 win. The Generals after trailing 2-0 at the end of the first period were able to cut the lead in half in the second off the stick of Cole Ford. But in the third, the Storm were able to notch one more goal and denied the Generals any chances of a comeback.
Prior to facing the Storm, the Generals took on the Kerry Park Islanders at Panorama Recreation Centre.
It was a close game with the Generals’ comeback falling short to lose 4-3. Scorers for the Generals were Swanson, Chase Heslop and Aleko Karamanis.
This week, the Generals will take on the Comox Valley Glacier Kings at the Comox Valley Sports Centre on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday night, Generals will host the Campbell River Storm again at Oceanside Place at 7 p.m.