By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Oshawa Generals are slowly regaining their manpower after a pair of weeks saw the team’s roster thinning due to injuries and suspensions, but now, the bigger bench appears to becoming with growing pains as the team has dropped back-to-back games.
After the Gens managed to snap a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Peterborough Petes on Nov. 16, they’ve now lost two straight with losses in Mississauga on Nov. 17 and a 5-3 decision against the Barrie Colts at the Tribute Communities Centre on Nov. 19.
During Sunday’s game, it twice appeared that the Generals were going to salvage something of their three-game week.
While the Generals fell behind quickly in the first period, with Barrie jumping ahead by two goals before Oshawa was even able to manage five shots on net, things turned around for Oshawa in the second period.
Starting the frame on the power play after Dominico Commisso was hooked down in the final minute of the first, Kenny Heuther was able to find the back of the net to bring the Gens within one. The goal was Heuther’s 12th of the season and a sign of life for the clubs ailing powerplay, which has been struggling in recent weeks.
The close score infused a shot of energy into the game and Alex Di Carlo dropped the gloves with Christopher Cameron in a spirited fight that had the crowd on its feet.
Things looked to be going well for Oshawa as Di Carlo’s fight enlivened the bench, but soon after things took a turn as Serron Noel was thrown from the game and given a five minute major for slew footing, a call the 4,500 fans in attendance disagreed with and made sure the ref knew it.
Things dropped further for Oshawa as Barrie restored its two-goal cushion on the ensuing power play.
Oshawa continued to show life, despite a collection of defensive blunders. Before the end of the period, goals from Danil Antropov and Erin Henderson, took the game tied into the third period.
The giveaway that eventually sealed the deal would be one defensman Riley Stillman would definitely like to have back. The assistant captain, back after a five-game suspension, made a clearing attempt right onto the tape of Lucas Chiodo in the slot, who went on to set up the game-winning goal by Zachary Magwood with just over five minutes to go in the period. The Colts would add another flukey goal with the puck deflecting off a Gens player to seal the 5-3 victory.
From his new perspective behind the bench, GM Roger Hunt, who stepped in on Thursday’s game as assistant coach Greg Nemisz was gone for a family function, says there were a few positives throughout the week, but the small “moral victories” meant nothing.
“At the end of the day, it’s got to be execution,” he said.
In terms of the Noel penalty, Hunt said he would be having the league review the call, which comes with a two-game suspension.
“It’s disappointing when that happens, especially when it’s maybe a borderline call,” he said. “When you a lose a player like him for half the game and potentially two more, it impacts him and impacts us.”
Another impact player currently sitting on the sidelines is starting goaltender Kyle Keyser, out with an upper body injury. However, Hunt says things are looking up.
“He’s working out now, doing low impact stuff,” Hunt says. “Every day I talk to him he says he feels better and that’s encouraging.”
In the meantime, the Gens recently picked up backup goaltender Mario Peccia from the Kingston Frontenacs in exchange for an 8th round pick in 2018 and 6th in 2019. The pickup allows current backup goalie Nathan Torchia to return to his Tier II club in Stouffville.
This week the Generals will start at home with a game against the first place Hamilton Bulldogs on Nov. 24, followed by a trip to take on the Colts on Nov. 25. The Gens will cap things off at home against the Steelheads.