The Campbell River Storm opened their 2016-17 account with what can only be described as an impressive 6-1 win over the Oceanside Generals, outshooting their North Division rivals 61-15 Friday.
From the opening face-off to the final buzzer, the Storm dominated, led by the line of Colin Blake, Sheldon Brett and Zach Erhardt.
Brett, acquired in a trade with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings earlier in the week, set the tone early with some punishing hits in the neutral zone.
All four Campbell River forward lines, along with the three defensive pairings, showed great chemistry.
As if to foreshadow the team’s performance, Associate Coach Mike Wilson said in his pre-game comments, “Emotions will be running high with the big crowd and the first game of the season. The key will be managing momentum.”
Following the game, head coach Lee Stone was thrilled by his team’s effort, “Impressive, it was a very good game. We talked all last season about a 60 minute performance, we just got it. We did a really good job of handling momentum tonight.”
Team captain, Kobe Oishi was responsible for the first entry on the scoresheet at 4:50 of the first period on a breakaway when he put a wrister past Generals netminder, Matt Henwood.
The Oceanside backstop turned aside 55 shots and despite the lopsided score line was named the game’s second star.
Before the first frame expired, the huge Brindy crowd witnessed two more Storm goals and were sitting on a 3-1 lead.
Colin Blake and 15-year-old Aiden Sutherland put their blasts in the back of the Gens’ net while Brodie Smith replied with the lone Oceanside marker on a rare Storm defensive zone miscue.
In the second, Henwood continued his heroics but Brett would get one past him late in the period.
Erhardt picked up his first of the season early in the third stanza from Blake and Brett. Blake would close the scoring at 17:58 to cap off a four point performance and first star honours.
Blake could break some long-held team records. Heading into the season, the five-year veteran was just 14 assists and 74 points behind Storm career records, both held by Jason Jaques (2001-2004).
It was clear that newly acquired Sheldon Brett had an impact on the game.
“That hit on his first or second shift might have been the biggest hit we’ve seen in this barn,” said Stone following the game.
Brett, with a wealth of Junior experience in the VIJHL (133 games) and BCHL (50 games), opened up the ice for his linemates. He was named third star.
The Storm continue their early season home stand with a pair of important games this weekend. On Friday, they meet perennial playoff rivals, the Victoria Cougars, while Saturday sees the the Saanich Braves come to town hoping to silence the Campbell River crowd.
Both games are set for 7:30 p.m. puck drops at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.