It was Kobe Oishi’s turn to be the hero, scoring an unassisted goal at 16:36 of double overtime to lift the Campbell River Storm to a 3-2 victory over the Victoria Cougars Tuesday night at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. The win gives the Storm a 2-0 lead in the best of seven VIJHL Championship series.
After a faceoff deep in Victoria territory, Oishi and linemate Josiah Friesen combined to jar the puck loose from Cougar’s defenseman Austin Wilk. Oishi picked it up in the corner, skated into the left faceoff circle, and drilled a low shot between the pads of Victoria goaltender Grant Payne.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially after a long game like that,” said the 18-year-old rookie from Kelowna, “The puck was down low and I picked it up off the wall – they gave me some space so I came out of the corner and fired it, five-hole. I was falling over at the time and just tried to get it on net.”
Storm head coach Lee Stone said the winning goal couldn’t have gone to a more deserving player.
“What can you say about Kobe? Here’s a kid that was on our fourth line for a good chunk of the season. He played all three forward positions for us and we even had him on defense earlier in the year. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, never complained, and now comes through with the winner in overtime. Not only is he producing at a point-per-game clip but he’s also helping shut down their top line.”
Campbell River built up a 2-0 second period lead on a pair of power play goals by red-hot Dane Feeney, his ninth and tenth of the post-season. However, Devin MacKey got one back for the Cougars before the end of the second, and then tied it six minutes into the third on a shot that dribbled in past Storm netminder Riley Welyk.
Both teams had glorious chances in overtime, including power play opportunities, but couldn’t score. Welyk stopped Victoria’s Brett Lervold on a breakaway just before Oishi ended it.
Campbell River outshot Victoria 35-23.
“It’s a great series, Junior ‘A’ calibre hockey,” commented Storm defenseman Nathan Browne, “We’re only two games in but it feels like a marathon already. They (Victoria) are a veteran team, they’ve been to the finals before, and they know how to win. We’re getting used to it. I think we can play a little more physical – give it back to them – and that will create more scoring chances.”
Coach Stone expects more of the same as the series continues.
“All the games (in this series) are going to be tight,” he said, “We could be down two games just as easily as we’re up two. We’re playing against a very experienced team but so far we’ve managed to find a way to win. There’s no question we’re thrilled to be ahead, but at the end of the day, two games doesn’t win you anything – we need four.”
The Storm welcomed back versatile forward Gavin Rauser to the line-up after missing six weeks due to injury, but played without veterans Zack Sanderson and Will McNamara. Both sat out with undisclosed ailments.
Game 3 takes place Thursday in Victoria, while Game 4 is scheduled for Friday night in Campbell River. Puck drop is at 7:30.
Gage Colpron shrugs off a Victoria defender in Tuesday’s night’s Campbell River Storm overtime game two victory. Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror