Oceanside atom development General Gage Boulton

Young skaters punch above their weight

Atom development Generals stumble in tiering play against larger club

The Oceanside atom development hockey team may have suffered a one-sided loss Saturday at Howie Meeker Arena, but the youngest Generals made sure fans knew there were two teams on the ice.

The atoms dropped a 13-2 decision to Victoria Racquet Club’s Tier I ‘A’ team to fall to 1-2 in placement-round action. The placement games are used to establish competitive divisions for the coming regular season, and commonly result in mismatches like Saturday’s, which followed a similar loss to Nanaimo’s ‘A’ team a week earlier.

“We compete well with teams from towns our own size, in our own competitive division,” atoms coach Joe Snyder said. “We do have trouble with teams from these bigger towns.”

The atom Generals recently placed third in their own eight-team Thanksgiving weekend tournament, and won their opening tiering game 10-7 over Juan de Fuca B1. And Saturday’s opponent, Victoria Racquet Club, already has tiering wins of 10-0 over Campbell River and 10-3 over Cowichan Valley. So it’s not as if the result was unprecedented.

The good news for Oceanside is that the Tier II atom Generals are unlikely to face these Tier I opponents again, though the competition has provided a valuable lesson to both players and coaches.

“These guys never quit; they’re giving their best all the time, no matter what the score is,” said Snyder. “They all have great attitude, they listen well, and then they go out and actually do what we ask. And we got the last goal of the game, which is a good confidence boost. We tell them, ‘Last goal wins.’”

Oceanside atom Benjamin Groome, top, watches his second goal of the game slide past Victoria Racquet Club goalie James Hall Saturday in Parksville. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Generals forward Benjamin Groome, whose first-period goal briefly tied the game 1-1, also scored the game’s final goal on a rush in the final minute and earned the team’s Hard Hat Award for effort and attitude.

“I thought we played pretty good,” said Groome.

Brett Stouffer had an assist for the atoms.

— NEWS Staff

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