Playing before a large and energetic opening-night home crowd, the Quality Foods Oceanside Generals rode that energy to the early advantage in their Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game against the Westshore Wolves Saturday.
But they failed to sustain that momentum for 60 minutes.
Westshore tied the game late in the second period and took control with two unanswered goals in the third to notch a 5-3 win over the Gens at Oceanside Place Arena.
“I thought through the first 40 minutes we were the better team and we probably deserved a better fate,” Generals head coach Gerry Bickerton said. “But in the third period they brought some good energy and really controlled the play.”
The Generals (0-2-0-1) were coming off a 7-6 overtime loss at Nanaimo Thursday night and seemed poised to crack the win column early on.
Oceanside Generals goalie Matt Henwood denies Westshore’s Cam Coutre on a breakaway during Saturday’s game at Oceanside Place Arena. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/NEWS Staff
Behind first-period goals from Dave Smith and Landon Dziadyk and a second-period tally from 16-year-old rookie Noah Fatur, the Generals took leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 through the first 37 minutes. But they failed to separate themselves from the visitors and the offense dried up when the Wolves forecheck took over in the third.
“We made a couple of mistakes they made us pay for, and when they made mistakes, we didn’t make them pay,” said Bickerton. “When you’re up by one goal it’s important to get that second goal. We’ve got to learn to put teams away early.”
Fatur, from Port Alberni, scored his first career junior goal on a quick rebound from the slot after Foster Martin’s blast from the circle was stopped.
“It felt awesome,” Fatur said of the goal that gave the Generals a 3-2 advantage in the opening minute of the second period. “And it’s nice to get it out of the way early in the season. But it would have been a lot nicer to get the (win).”
The Generals host a pair of games this weekend: Saanich on Saturday (7:30 p.m.), Comox on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.