By Blake Moon
Ladies and Gentleman, after 43 playoff games in 39 days a single team has finally emerged victorious. The Oceanside Generals are your 2022-2023 VIJHL champions! After what was a riveting series, the regular season champs proved that they had what it took to win when it counted and overcame the Saanich Predators in 6 games. This year’s playoffs were truly like no other, but it was the final series that showed us just how lucky we are here on the Island to have this caliber of hockey easily accessible. For those of you who were lucky enough to attend some of the games you know exactly what i’m talking about, but for those of you who missed some of the action, let me fill you in on what was a series for the ages!
Oceanside Generals (N1) vs Saanich Predators (S2)
Heading into this series it was clear that this was going to be the toughest test yet for both clubs. While the Gens were the higher seed, this was not going to be a walk in the park for the Gens. In the same breath, the Preds were on quite a high after slaying the southern division dragons in the Victoria Cougars, but they knew that if they were going to complete this Cinderella story and win the VIJHL championship, they were going to have to dig even deeper than they already had. Games 1 and 2 did not go according to plan for the Predators however, as they were severely outshot and seemingly outworked for the entirety of the games. But the Predators showed who they really were in games 3 and 4 as they snatched both of them from the Generals, making a statement that they were not going to go down that easily. Heading into game 5 it was evident that this series was going to end in an explosive manner and that turned out to be the truth. Game 5 went down to the wire with both teams being knotted at a pair of goals each at the end of regulation; pushing this already dramatic game to a winner take all overtime period. The Generals found a way to pot the winning goal and take a stranglehold on the series with a 3-2 lead. Game 6 saw the Predators host the Generals to keep their season alive in what turned out to be one of the craziest games of the year. I was lucky enough to attend this game in person and let me assure you; this game was electric to say the least. Shoutout to the home fans from Saanich who made their presence known and supported their team to the very end. But I have to give a super shoutout to the literal hundreds of Oceanside fans who made the trek to enemy territory to seemingly outnumber the home fans. It was an atmosphere that screamed small town hockey, and while the fans were great, it was the game that deserves the ultimate shoutout. This was a back and forth battle that saw heavy hits, spectacular skill, and shifting momentum that kept us all on the edge of our seats for the entire game. Game 6 saw the lead change multiple times, and yet, 60 minutes was still not enough to decide a winner. This game required not 1, but 2 overtime periods to see a hero emerge and it was Carter Johnson for the Oceanside Generals who cashed the game winner and the series winner to send the arena into a frenzy.
The Generals played one heck of a series to cap off what was an amazing season. The Generals finished the regular season with a record of 41-3-4, and the playoffs with a record of 12-3, leading the league in points, goals for, goals against, and consequently, goal differential. The Generals were the Goliath of the VIJHL, and it turns out there simply was no David this year. Congratulations to the Oceanside Generals players, coaching staff, training staff, volunteers and parents for what was an amazing season!
While the Generals were a wagon of a hockey team, the Saanich Predators were outstanding as well. They finished the season with a record of 26-13-9 and scrapped their way to an impressive playoff record of 10-8. The Preds played a tight game all playoffs long, mitigating mistakes as often as possible and finding ways to outplay their opponents. It was no mistake that this club got as far as they did, and despite being the runner ups, they have nothing to hang their heads about. The Saanich Predators played hard to the final buzzer and gave one of the best teams the VIJHL has ever seen a serious run for their money, being only a single goal away from a shot at a dramatic game 7. Congratulations to the Saanich Predators players, coaching staff, training staff, volunteers and parents for what was also an amazing season!
- Goals: Tyler Gyori, Carter Johnson, Dante Paziuk, and Jacob Thomas (7)
- Assists: Brendan Carlson, Carter Johnson, and Brady Van Herk (12)
- Points: Carter Johnson (19)
- Wins: Ashton Sadauskas and Matthew Hutchison (6)
- Goals: Jack Westhaver (11)
- Assists: Michael Hoekstra (15)
- Points: Michael Hoekstra (21)
- Wins: Dryden Demelo (7)
What a conclusion to a fantastic year of VIJHL hockey! While the season may be over the content will continue to drop here on VIJHL.com so make sure to keep your eyes locked open for updates and news on all your favourite teams and players going into next season! Thank you for supporting Vancouver Island Junior B hockey league, and we will see you all in the 2023-2024 VIJHL season!