The Campbell River Storm is off to its best start in a decade thanks to a pair of recent victories over North Island Division rivals.
The first place locals improved their league-leading record to 6-0 by defeating the Nanaimo Buccaneers 4-2 Thursday on the road, and then returned home to spank the Oceanside Generals 8-2 the following night.
“There are still areas we need to improve on but overall I’m pleased,” said Storm head coach Lee Stone, “For me the effort level is there and that’s what is most important. We have high expectations, so 6-0 is a good start to the season.”
One bad habit Coach Stone would like to see his team kick is the notorious slow start. Campbell River fell behind early against Nanaimo again, giving up a goal in the opening minute for the second straight game. The locals eventually got rolling however, tying the score on a beautiful shot by Gage Colpron at 18:02 of the first, and then taking the lead 43 seconds later on a goal by James Severs.
Hard working rookie Christian Brandt scored the eventual game winner early in the second period on a quick wrist shot that found its way through the equipment of Nanaimo goaltender Greg Maggio before dribbling over the line.
The Buccaneers made things interesting, notching a power play marker with five minutes remaining in the third, and then had a great chance to pull even when Olson took a hooking with 1:37 left on the clock. But outstanding penalty killing by the tandem of Gavin Rauser and Tyler Welsh kept Nanaimo from setting up, and Colpron ended the threat by scoring into the empty net in the final minute, his second of the contest.
“The Bucs were a tough team to play against last year and they’re the same this year,” said Stone, “They are a hard working team – they finish their checks, chip pucks deep – games against them are never going to be easy. I thought there were a lot of things we could of done better but, in the end, we managed to come out of their building with two points and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Back at home Friday night, The Storm put on a show for the 776 fans in attendance. Colin Blake and Gavin Rauser each tallied twice, and Dane Feeney registered five assists as Campbell River overwhelmed the last place Generals 8-2. It was also a successful debut for Storm rookie netminder Kyle Cheema, making his first start of the season between the pipes.
“I was a little nervous before the game started,” admitted the 17-year-old Cloverdale native, “but once we got the first five minutes out of the way I was fine. With our team and the amount of skill we have on the back end, it was easy. Our defensemen do a really good job of not giving up scoring chances, they keep everything to the outside.”
Campbell River held period leads of 1-0 and 5-1, and outshot Oceanside by a final count of 59-20.
Next up for the undefeated Storm is a battle of first place teams. The Westshore Wolves, leaders of the South Island Division with a record of 6 wins and only one loss, will be in town Friday night for a showdown at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.