The Campbell River Storm opened up the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) season with a pair of games against rival the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
The Storm opened up the year at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena at Strathcona Gardens Sept. 8. Backed by a stellar 44-save performance from Nick Peters, the Storm made the most of the pair of power play opportunities and edged Comox 5-4 in a thrilling game which saw the Glacier Kings out shoot the Storm 48-31.
In the return match on Sep. 10, The Storm notched three third period goals and stellar goal-tending from rookie netminder Ben Laurette to win 6-2.
Earlier in the week, associate coach Jordan Rauser spoke of the enthusiasm he had with starting the new season.
“I think it’s mostly excitement,” said Rauser. “You work from the end of last season all the way through the summer. Doing all the preparation and it kind of culminates. It’s almost like a feeling at Christmas morning. You wait for it all year and it’s there and you’re just ready to go.”
With most of its biggest changes happening away from the ice, the Storm were looking for veterans like forward Brady Easterbrook, Quinn Messer and Carter De Boer to carry the load for the squad.
Rauser was said the team had been lucky to find some under the radar players, or as he put it “some diamonds in the rough.”
Those included forward Rayden Parkes of Kelowna, and local product Spencer Uzzell-Paulos of Campbell River. Both notched a pair of points in the two wins. De Boer totalled five points from the weekend, including a 2-goal, 2-assist performance on Saturday.
The regular season getting underway with a pair of wins against Comox, Rauser insisted last week that it was the geography of the VIJHL that allowed the players to build off the rivalry versus the Glacier Kings.
“The games are pretty high play and high pace, with lots of physicality,” said Rauser. “When it comes to the Storm and Comox, it’s always going to be a pretty physical affair. We’re lucky to thrive off that highway rivalry.”
The Storm’s next game will be Friday, Sept. 15 as they welcome The Nanaimo Buccaneers to the Rod Brind’Amour Arena. The Buccaneers and Storm split a pair of preseason games in August, with the visitor winning both times.