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Campbell River Storm still top Junior B team in B.C. despite no home ice advantage

Team is hoping to reach 40 wins for first time in its history
Campbell River Storm’s Kye Benoche charges in on net during Oct. 8 game versus Oceanside Generals. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River sports fans will be happy to read a more upbeat storm update after being battered by piles of snow this week.

The local VIJHL team is sitting atop the table by a wide margin. In fact, the Campbell River Storm – with a 90 per cent win percentage – have the best record out of any Junior B team in the province.

Most impressively, the squad has managed to maintain its standing despite not having home ice to play on since the beginning of November. A strike by workers at Strathcona Gardens has resulted in the team having to play home games in Comox and Gold River.

Head coach Lee Stone said it had been difficult on the team, but the bonds between the players have kept them focused on continuing their high level of play.

“It’s a tightly knit group of guys,” Stone said. “They’re more than friends, it’s a brotherhood.”

As the strike continued from November to December, the coach said he called the players and their families and told them he’d understand if they wanted to take their talents elsewhere.

“Playing at the ‘Brindy’ is one of the major selling points when we recruit new players,” he said. “We show them videos of the arena during games, and explain the fan support they will receive if they join the team.”

Thankfully for the successful squad and its fans, all the players decided to stick it out.

“Hopefully when we do get back into our building , and get rolling into the playoffs, any adversity we do face will be a walk in the park compared to what we’ve had to deal with the last little bit here,” Stone said.

The well rounded team is anchored by star goalie, Nick Peters.

The goaltender of the week for Week 15 for the VIJHL North division was noticed by the club’s management last year when he was playing for the Powell River Kings in the BCHL.

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Stone. “He’s got the ability to not only stop the puck, but he also plays the puck well which allows our defensemen to avoid getting hit.”

He has backstopped 19 of the club’s wins, carries a Goals Against Average of 1.76, and has a save percentage of 0.932.

“For a 17-year-old, it’s remarkable how calm and confident he is,” Stone said.

While the team’s 5-on-5 offense is respectable, the Storm’s effort on the power play sets it apart from other clubs. Currently, the unit is scoring on 30 per cent of its chances with an opposing player in the penalty box.

“I’ve been here for nine years,” Stone said, “And we’re usually in the 23 to 25 per cent range, which is still very good, so this stat says a lot about our guys and the work they’ve put in to be successful with the man advantage.”

Early on in the season, the Storm set a goal of 40 wins, which would be a new single season record for the club.

“That’s a long term vision,” Stone said,” but for us we’re taking it one game at a time, and the kids have done a good job focusing on each match-up.”

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