By Mark Berry
That was more difficult than anyone anticipated. Sure the Campbell River Storm wrapped up their VIJHL Quarterfinals series but Peninsula made it interesting.
It took some late heroics from Reid Wheeldon to seal the deal Tuesday, a 5-4 Campbell River victory at teh Rod Brind’Amour Arena and a 4-1 series win. With 3:24 left in the third, he took a pass from Cole Slaney in the neutral zone, forced his way through the Panthers’ defence and fired the puck past netminder Connor McKillop. Wheeldon played well in the first round, leading the Storm in hits and averaging a point per game.
The Storm were up 2-0 early in the second on goals from Kyle Kaufmann and Jalen Price.
They talk a lot about turning points in sports, well Game 5 certainly was a prime example. Campbell River was in complete control of the game until Panthers’ defenceman Thomas Spink laid out a thunderous hit on Dawson Frank midway through the second. It was one of the hardest, clean, open ice hits of the season and it fired up his teammates.
Moments later the Panthers scored three times in 80 seconds and suddenly it was game on with the Storm trailing 3-2 after 40 minutes.
The second intermission was a productive one, as Campbell River put it to good use and came out strong in the third outscoring Peninsula 3-1 in the period on goals from Frank, with a pair, and Wheeldon.
Frank, after missing one game on a call-up with the BCHL Powell River Kings, leads all VIJHL scorers with eight goals and an assist in just four playoff games. Teammate Darren Hards is second with eight points.
At press time, the Storm are awaiting their second round opponents, either the Westshore Wolves or Victoria Cougars. In the other semi-final series, the #2 Nanaimo Buccaneers and #3 Saanich Braves will meet next week.