The Campbell River Storm are one win away from advancing to the next round of the VIJHL playoffs.
The Storm peppered the Nanaimo Buccaneers net with shots on their way to a 5-4 victory at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena Tuesday night.
Buccs goalie Austin Dendl, who’s been solid in net for his team all series, faced a series-high 61 shots from the home team.
For the Buccs offense, it was quality over quantity in the shots department. They shot on the Storm net just 24 times but needed fewer than five chances to score in the first period, with affiliate player (AP) James Joyce netting the opening goal at 1:57 of the frame.
The Storm returned from the first break with focus. They scored three unanswered goals in less than three minutes and added one more before Nanaimo was able to respond.
The first goal came from Noah Fladager at 6:28 of the period, who capitalized on a juicy rebound as Jory Swanson and Isaac Tonkin-Palmer picked up assists. Then, just over 1.5 minutes later, Tonkin-Palmer scored a goal of his own on a Storm power play with Swanson and Owen Christensen getting credited with assists.
Tonkin-Palmer then added one more point to his tally at 8:47 of the period with Storm captain Kyle Jennings picking up the assist.
With less than five minutes to go in the period, Cody Savey gave the Storm a 4-1 lead with an unassisted goal. But Nanaimo would not back down. With Tonkin-Palmer in the box for slashing, the Buccs stormed the Campbell River net. Goalie Aaron de Kok got tangled with up with his own team and the Buccs scored, which had fans screaming for a no-goal.
The goal would stand and Nanaimo would continue to erase their deficit as Jaxon Krupa scored his second of the night with less than two minutes to go in the frame to bring his team within one point.
At 7:14 of the third period, Nanaimo tied things up as Luke Golka scored with the assist going to Connor Casparie.
In the first four games of the series, the Storm earned all their wins in regulation time. When the games went to overtime, Nanaimo proved victorious.
So with everything equal at 4-4 and just over 10 minutes to go in regulation, the Storm were chasing a goal.
They would find one with less than two minutes to go in regulation time. Jackson Dyke, from Ryan Suzukovich and Josh Pederson, scored his first playoff goal of the season to lift the Storm to a 5-4 game 5 victory and a 3-2 series lead over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
The Storm need just one more win to advance to the VIJHL North Division finals.
The winner of the series will face the Oceanside Generals, who eliminated the Kerry Park Islanders from the post-season with four-straight wins.
In the South Division, the Victoria Cougars lead the Saanich Braves 3-0, while the Peninsula Panthers lead the Westshore Wolves 2-1.
The Storm travel to Nanaimo for Game 6 Thursday night at the Pirate Ship. Puck drop is at 7:15 p.m. Game 7, if needed, would be played in Campbell River on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Jory Swanson was recognized before the game as the fan-favourite Storm player this season. He earned more than 600 fan votes in the online contest. He will receive a custom suit from Jim’s Clothes Closet.
Over the weekend, Josh Pederson was announced as the VIJHL Mac McWilliams Memorial Trophy as the league’s Unsung Hero. Storm players have won the award three times in the last five years with Storm alumni Kobe Oishi and Damon Kramer previously earning the honour.
The Storm picked up another league award over the weekend. Head Coach Lee Stone was named the VIJHL Coach of the Year.