Heading into last weekend, the Storm were in unchartered territory.
They closed off 2016 with three consecutive losses, to Nanaimo, Comox Valley and Oceanside. That was their worst regular season slide in three years.
There were some changes made during the holiday break to right the ship and get the top team in the VIJHL back to their winning ways.
General Manager Lee Stone bolstered the back end by getting a veteran defenceman in Kyle Craddock from the North Peace Navigators of the NWJHL; the Navs won the Alberta Championship last season and took bronze at the Western Canadians. Craddock has an offensive upside but plays with an edge. Stone learned that a trade that he made earlier in the season had paid dividends last week when Ben Raffler became available from the BCHL Powell River Kings. The rights to the big D-man were acquired from the Glacier Kings back in November.
Then on Thursday, he put together a complicated three-player, three-team deal that strengthened his team’s goaltending. Chase Anderson was picked up from the Kerry Park Islanders for Matt Henwood and futures. As part of the deal, Josh Poland from Peninsula went to the Isles and for that the Storm also owe the Panthers futures. Anderson, with a 90.6 save percentage, joins the league’s top goaltender Chris Smith as Campbell River’s dynamic duo between the pipes.
The stage was set for the first game of the calendar year on Friday against the Oceanside Generals which resulted in a 5-0 win.
On Saturday in Courtenay, the Storm faced a tough goalie in Marcus Gloss and for 30 minutes he stoned them. The Glacier Kings held a 2-0 lead until Brett Kinley broke down the door with his second goal of the season, kicking off a massive comeback resulting in a 5-2 victory.
Before the game, Stone acquired a speedy and gifted forward from the BCHL Langley Rivermen. Darren Hards joined the team just before the bus departed for Courtenay and played on a line with Blake and Williams.
The Storm are on the road this weekend, in Nanaimo on Thursday and Peninsula on Friday.