Oceanside’s Midget Rep Generals found themselves down 2-0 early on Sunday, but the boys fought back with five unanswered goals and kept their season alive by thumping the Campbell River Tyees 5-2 in front of a loud crowd of family and friends.
The Generals went into the final weekend of the Tier 2 quarterfinals with their backs against the wall, and responded with an inspired 3-0 road win on Friday over the Powell River Kings.
The Generals, said their coach Louis Raymond, “played really well both games — they played their butts off. We knew we had to beat Powell River or we were done — it was do or die, so the kids played with intensity.”
The Generals were outshot 32-24 in Powell River, due in large part to penalties, but Duncan Wilson was rock solid to earn the shutout in net.
On Sunday at Oceanside Place, the Tyees opened the scoring 4:21 in, and added another one 7:54 into the second period. The Generals replied less than a minute later with two goals in under a minute-and-a-half from Anthony Buksa (Reed Kyle), and Michael Buerge (Josh Whiteman) for a 2-2 tie at the mid-game ice clean.
“Michael played great both games … we’ll miss ‘em,” said his coach, pointing out Sunday was Buerge’s final game of the season, as he’s scheduled for knee surgery next week.
Oceanside took a 3-2 lead 55 seconds into the third period when D-man and Captain David Robertson buried a Brent Douthwright pass from the top of the face-off circle.
Jason Gottfried (Anthony Buksa) upped it to 4-2 at 11:37, and Daylin Ohs (Robertson, Gottfried) salted the win with just under three minutes remaining.
Oceanside outshot CR 31-15 on the game. Broedy Gaschler was solid to earn the win in net Sunday.
“We kept our cool,” Raymond said when asked what the mood on the bench was like after falling behind 2-nil. “We were in their zone pretty much the whole game, so even though they capitalized on two chances, I kept stressing to the guys to keep going. Once we got the second goal the flood gates opened. We knew we were the better team — we just had to keep at it.”
Raymond said he told the players heading into Sunday’s game that they needed to win to advance to the second round of the playoffs, but in reality they only needed not to lose by more than two goals.
In Powell River on Friday, Buerge staked Oceanside to a 1-0 lead off a beauty breakaway goal.
“He deeked the goalie and slid the puck five hole as he came across the net,” said Oceanside manger Glenn Wilson. “It was our first shot on net.”
Josh Whiteman and Spencer Virs picked up assists on the opener, and Oceanside upped it to 2-0 with time winding down in the first period off a nice power play goal by Ohs (James Sneddon, Noah Russi). Kyle beat the Kings’ keeper blocker side with a great shot from the high slot in the last minute of the second to make it 3-0.
Duncan Wilson was solid between the pipes to earn the shutout in net for Oceanside.
The Generals finished the North Island AA Midget Rep Playoffs in second place, with Port Alberni sitting first. Both teams now move on to the Tier 2 semi-finals this weekend, which is a one-game crossover pitting Port Alberni against No. 2 from the South, Peninsula. The Generals play No. 1 from the South, Juan de Fuca, at Bear Mountain Arena. The winners of those two games square off in a best of three.
The Generals played the Grizzlies three times during the regular season, beating them once and tying twice.
“I have a feeling it’s going to be a very tough game,” said Wilson.
The Generals made history this year by becoming the first local team to win the Tier 1 regular season title.