It’s been a busy week for the coaching staff of Oceanside’s Save On Foods Generals, and the local team heads into week four of the VIJHL regular season looking to right the ship.
Cut from the team this week was D-men Nathan Read from Port Alberni — last week the team released local Dylan Ohs (now with the Kerry Park Islanders).
“Lots of D-men… tough choices,” Generals’ head coach and GM Brent Demerais said prior to Wednesday night’s spirited (and upbeat) team practice at Oceanside Place.
Joining the team this week was former Gen and stellar 6’5”, 210 pound rearguard Jesse Ursic from Port.
Ursic, 19, who shoots left, spent a good a portion of his minor hockey career in Alberni playing under Demerais, and it was his connection with the Gens’ first year head coach that brought him back.
“He’s the kind of guy that’s going to be the quarterback on our powerplay. He can move the puck, he can pass, and he’s got a helluva shot — he’s got very gifted hands,” said Demerais.
Local fans may remember Ursic from 2009 when he played a half dozen or so games with the Generals as an AP the year they hosted the Cyclone Taylor Cup. Worth noting is that he was selected to play in the Western Hockey League at the age of 16, but chose not to go.
Early in that 2009 season he was signed by the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL and from there he played three more seasons of Jr. A, lacing up with the Victoria Grizzlies and Prince George Spruce Kings.
During the off-season this summer there was talk of another trade, this time to the Port Alberni Bulldogs, “but I just decided I’d rather come back here,” he said.
“I’m excited to be back,” the easy going blueliner with the wicked wrist shot said Thursday as his teammates were being put through their paces. “Brent’s a great coach, and we’ve got a real good group of guys here, great camaraderie … I’m hoping to take on a bit of a leadership role with the younger players.”
“Great kid… what you see is what you get with him. He’s a team player all the way that guy,” Demerais said, then made the point “just the reaction of some of those guys watching Ursic at practice… having a guy like that in your lineup is huge (no pun intended).”
As for the rest of the team, “we’re still a little thin up front right now,” Demerais said Thursday when asked about his bench, which has been depleted due to injuries and sickness, adding Ethan Larson, a D-man from Chilliwack, will be be pressed into service as a forward for the third straight weekend.
“He’s a big body out there,” said Demerais. “He’s strong on his skates and he’s doing unreal out there at the forward position …he likes to get involved.”
Beyond that, the bench boss has also been moving a few players around on different lines “just to try something different.”
“We’re totally looking forward to it,” he said when asked about the mood of the team heading into Thursday’s road game against the 3-1 Nanaimo Buccaneers (score from that game unavailable at press time), who are currently sitting tops in the VIJHL’s North Division. “The big thing is we play Nanaimo 10 time this year, and they’re in our division, so that’s a four point game for us.”
The Gens’ are in Mill Bay Saturday to take on the 0-4 Islanders.