The Campbell River Storm have dropped to second place in the VIJHL standings, but are still well positioned going into the last weekend of action before a well deserved break to end 2017.
The Storm welcomed the Nanaimo Buccaneers to town Friday, and the hometown crowd was in for a barn burner of a game. The Storm and Bucs have been battling back and forth for first overall in the league for much of the season and the two teams are well ahead of their next closest batch of teams.
Pearce Messer opened the scoring for the home team on the power play six minutes into the first, but Nanaimo would get that one back after Reid Wheeldon took a goaltender interference penalty just after the mid-way mark of the period, giving the Bucs a man advantage in return.
Both teams gave as well as they got for the rest of the period, with neither team looking like they would change the tide.
Coming out of the dressing rooms for the second period, the visitors looked like they had settled in, however, and Booker Chacalias, follwed by Cam Nickerson found the mesh behind the Storm’s Carson Schamerhorn before the midway point of the second.
The Bucs would keep rolling on the power play, as well. Jayden Schubert and Seamus O’Toole both managed to get pucks by Schamerhorn on the man advantage, chasing him from the Storm goal, to be replaced by Liam Murphy.
That seemed to spark the home team, as Dawson Frank got the team back heading in the right direction on the scoreboard, followed by Jake McKenzie. Chicalias would add his second of the night to put the visitors up 6-3, but Wheeldon got it back to 6-4 before the end of the frame.
The third was a much tighter affair, with neither team seeming to want to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Dawson Frank managed to find the cage behind Nanaimo’s Derek Krall, who was having another excellent night once again for the Buccaneers, which is no surprise considering the year he’s having thus far this season.
Down 6-5 late in the third, the Storm would get one more good shot at tying it up when Chicalias took an interference penalty. Coach Stone called Murphy to the bench and the Storm put the pressure on, but were unable to capitalize with Krall standing tall in the Nanaimo net.
The Storm would rebound from that loss Sunday, however, when they traveled down-Island to take on the Peninsula Panthers.
Despite going down 1-0 in the first and struggling to generate much offense, Darren Hards managed to add to his team-leading point total with a pair of goals on the night and the Storm came away with a 4-2 win on the road.
Hards came out of the weekend ranked second overall in league scoring, tied with Nanaimo’s Schubert and behind only Westshore’s Cameron Coutre, who has flown up the league standings with an astonishing 32 points in his last 13 games.
The Storm will now welcome the Victoria Cougars to town Friday to end 2017. They are then off until Jan. 5 when Nanaimo comes back to town.
Puck drop for both games is 7:30 p.m.