Special to the Mirror
The Campbell River Storm will meet the Victoria Cougars in the VIJHL Championship Finals for the second year in a row.
Game One is Sunday night in Victoria.
In their drive to the Keystone Cup a year ago, the Storm’s fiercest competition came from the Cougars.
Although they captured the Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy as League Champions in four straight, each game was decided by a goal. This year, Victoria hasn’t lost to Campbell River in four regular season games having outscored them 29-9.
This series will be a battle of two teams with the best records in BC Junior B Hockey.
The Cougars find themselves in the Finals after a 4-3 win over the Peninsula Panthers on Monday. They are a perfect 8-0 in the post season.
The Storm advanced following a 7-1 drubbing of the Buccaneers at the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Sunday. The win completed a four game sweep.
The Black and Red played one of their most dominant games of the year.
According to Head Coach Lee Stone, “We knew we were going to have to start strong in this game, we didn’t want to give them any life and I don’t think we did.”
The Storm scored four goals on their first six shots and held a 4-0 lead after one.
The Storm’s Braeden Cyra opened the scoring, at 3:17 of the first on the power play, with a slapper at the side of the net.
He had a strong night, picking up two goals and two assists.
Midway through the period, Colin Blake circled the Nanaimo net and fired a high shot that fooled goalie Alex Orth.
Later in the period, Keenan Scardina made it 3-0, but just 22 seconds later the Storm would add to that lead.
The speedster, Carter Hikichi, on a two on one, slid the puck over to Cyra, who fired a laser that went cross-bar and in.
In the second period, Campbell River would outscore the Buccaneers 2-1 on goals from Blake, his second, and Josh Coblenz.
The Buccaneers would get one back when Jordan Levesque scored on a deflection at the side of the net.
Jake Mullen stopped 29 of 30 shots including a third period penalty shot from Levesque. Mullen is undefeated since coming to the Storm in January (13-0).
By the time Gage Colpron scored the seventh Campbell River goal in the third period, the game was out of reach and took on a strange twist.
At 10:52, in the space of just a few plays, four Buccaneer players and their Head Coach were ejected from the game. Jake Calverley took a ‘roughing after the whistle’ penalty and was subsequently ejected. Levesque, as captain, conferred with one of the on-ice officials and he was tossed. Seconds later, Orth was also given a game misconduct. On the following play, after one of the referees was hit with the puck, Will McNamara’s night was over and the Buc’s coach Dan Lemmon was kicked out.
After the game, Stone credited Saanich for his team’s success over Nanaimo, “I have to give some kudos to Brad Cook and the Braves because they fully prepared us for this (series). We went into the Saanich series thinking it was going to be a four game sweep and they taught us that’s not how it works in the playoffs.” He added, “We approached Nanaimo one game at a time.”
Game 1 of the Finals is Sunday in Victoria with Game 2 slated for Rod Brind’Amour Arena on Tuesday.
The Storm’s Gage Colpron, left, battles around the Nanaimo Buccaneer’s defenceman.