Their first loss in 13 postseason games proved just the spark to get the Campbell River Storm Junior B hockey team back on track in the 2015 Keystone Cup.
Now, they’ll have the chance to avenge that loss in the Cup final.
Coming off a 5-4 loss to North Edmonton Friday — on a goal with six seconds remaining — the Storm returned to the ice Saturday and made an emphatic statement in their final two round-robin games at the Cold Lake Energy Centre in Cold Lake, AB.
Reece Costain scored two goals and Will McNamara enjoyed a three-point effort as the Storm kicked off Saturday’s doubleheader with a 5-2 win over the Thunder Bay Northern Hawks.
In the nightcap, six different players found the net as Campbell River (4-1-0) overwhelmed Selkirk, Manitoba, 6-1 to clinch a berth in Sunday’s noon PDT championship final against North Edmonton (3-1-1).
McNamara recorded the game-winning goals in both contests.
North Edmonton’s dramatic win over the Storm in the teams’ meeting Friday snapped a 12-game Campbell River winning streak.
However, Thunder Bay blasted previously unbeaten Red Wings 5-1 in the final round-robin game Saturday night to give the Storm the No. 1 seed into the final.
Campbell River’s 23 goals are the most in the six-team tourney and its 12 goals allowed are the fewest. The team’s 11-goal differential is five better than the next-best squad, Saskatoon, which faces Thunder Bay for the bronze Sunday.
It will be the Storm’s second trip to the Keystone Cup final, following a runner-up finish in the 2006 Western Canadian Junior B Championships on their home ice. The Storm are bidding to become the first Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team to claim the cup.
Storm 5, Thunder Bay 2
McNamara set up Costain’s first goal in the opening period, then scored the game-winner during a four-goal outburst in the second period that put the game out of reach.
Leading 1-0 after the first period, Campbell River went up 2-0 when Tyler Welsh converted off a Connor Logan assist at 2:05 of the second. Thunder Bay, which had a chance to leapfrog the Storm into second place with a win, drew to 2-1 on Taylor Santorelli’s marker at 6:16.
But it was a Storm surge from the point on, with McNamara restoring the two-goal edge off a Welsh assist just 35 seconds later, Dane Feeney making it 4-1 with a goal at 12:33 and Costain added his second goal — with assists to McNamara and goalie Jesse Michel — at 15:16.
From there, the Storm turned it over the Michel and the defence, which allowed only a single, meaningless goal to the Hawks’ Alex Valliant at 5:10 of the third.
Trevor Bottomley added an assist in the win as the Storm outshot Thunder Bay 35-21.
Storm 6, Selkirk 1
McNamara, Josiah Friesen and Trent Johnson each had a goal and an assist and Connor Logan, Colin Blake and Thor Rosback each scored as the Storm dominated the last-place Fishermen from Manitoba.
Friesen’s tally midway through the first period was the game’s only goal until the 11:37 mark of the second, when McNamara notched the game-winner on a shorthanded goal assisted by captain Jordan Rauser.
Johnson made it 3-1 with his goal two minutes later. After Selkirk got on the board via a Brandon Paradoski goal late in the second, the Storm pulled away with goals by Logan, Blake and Rosback — on the power play — in a lopsided third period.
Rauser and Andy Stevens finished with two assists each, and Costain, Bottomley and Gavin Rauser added helpers as the Storm improved to 20-2 in the 2015 postseason.
The Storm enjoyed a 49-23 advantage in shots on goal, and also went 1-for-3 on the power play while scoring the single time they were forced to kill a penalty.