Fill up the Brindy and cheer the Storm to victory!

NO, REALLY: The Storm was so good through this period that other teams were forced to get better just to keep up

I’m going to miss tonight’s Storm semifinal playoff game, but there’s no reason  you should.

Got tickets to Jesse Cook at the Tidemark which is just about sold-out, but I’m betting you can still get seats to see the Storm.

That was never the case in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Storm was in a class by itself in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Just about every home game was a sell-out and the arena was jam-packed for each and every playoff series which Campbell River typically won.

The Storm was so good through this period that other teams were forced to get better just to keep up. Up until the Storm came on board, the league was generally for over-age midget players who just weren’t good enough for Junior A or Major-Junior.

Unfortunately, as the rest of the league got better, Campbell River came down to earth, so to speak, when different owners took over the club.

The commitment to excellence was no longer there and it showed. The Storm became average and so did the attendance at Strathcona Gardens.

The Storm still out-drew more fans than the rest of the league, but it wasn’t the same feeling in a half-empty arena. And the Brindy became very quiet too with not a whole lot to cheer about.

But this season has been different – it’s almost like the Storm of old. They’ve won with speed, scoring, defence, excellent goaltending and, most importantly, great team play.

Talent, though, isn’t enough to win hockey games and a ton of credit for the Storm’s success goes to head coach Lee Stone and his staff.

However, the biggest difference has been new directors Kevin and Linda Spooner, and Wes Roed. They have revived that spirit of excellence and that feeling has been embraced top to bottom in the organization.

And Kevin’s enthusiasm for the team is so infectious. At the end of the second period in the last series against Nanaimo, Kevin just about body-checked me in the stands as he went racing down to harangue the ref who had made a few dubious calls against his beloved Storm.

It wasn’t an angry confrontation, just a passionate owner giving the ref a piece of his mind – like any fan.

After the series win, Kevin was really jacked up about the semi-finals against Victoria Cougars and then he turned around to survey the stands. There was a decent crowd, but a lot of empty seats.

“These kids are playing really good hockey right now, let’s fill this place up!” he said.

I agree. The Storm is a fun team to watch and the series against Victoria will be a good one. The club has done its part to get better and now it’s time for the rest of Campbell River hockey fans to do their part.

And one last thing, it’s okay to make a lot of noise.