The Campbell River Storm finished the regular season strong with back-to-back wins at home and on the road this weekend.
The Storm beat the Nanaimo Buccaneers 5-1 at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena Friday night and then pulled off a 3-2 overtime upset over the Oceanside Generals, the north division’s top team.
It’s been a tough slog for the Storm recently. They’ve won just five of their last 10 games and still have five players listed as injured.
The Storm had been in a race for first place in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL)’s north division, but after the team’s 4-0 Feb. 17 loss to the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, the Oceanside Generals were guaranteed the top spot. It’s the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Generals have finished first in the division.
We now have a clear playoff picture.
As the VIJHL announced at the start of the season, there are some changes to this year’s playoff format.
The league has returned to a north/south format with the first two rounds of the post season pitting intra-divisional teams against each other in a best-of-seven series.
The past two seasons saw the top eight teams in the league – regardless of being in the north or south division – get seeded according to its regular season points and face-off in a 1 vs. 8 format.
The top eight teams after the regular season qualify for playoffs. But with four teams in the north and five teams in the south, the league designated the Kerry Park Islanders as the “swing team.”
So, in the event that the ninth place team was from the north, Kerry Park would be seeded in the north division for playoffs based on their points, as is the case this year.
The Championship finals will see the last-standing team in the north face the last-standing team in the south.
The Victoria Cougars dominated the league this season and finish with 83 points after the 48-game regular season. They’re set to face the Saanich Braves, who finished fourth in the south division with 47 points.
The other south division quarter-final will pitch the second-place Peninsula Panthers (70 points) against the Westshore Wolves (56 points).
In the north, the Oceanside Generals, who finished the regular season with 65 points, will face the Kerry Park Islanders, who have 25 points. The north’s other quarter-final will see the Campbell River Storm (61 points) face the Nanaimo Buccaneers (34 points).
The Storm have been dominant over the Buccs this season. Over their 10 match-ups, the Storm were 8-2-0. But it was the Buccs who upset Campbell River’s 10-game win streak in January.
Game one is set for the Rod Brind’Amour Arena this Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
The games are scheduled to hop between arenas. Game two is set for Feb. 27 at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Game three is back in Campbell River at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. Game four is set for March 1 at 7:15 p.m. in Nanaimo.
If needed, game five would be on March 3 in Campbell River, game six would be in Nanaimo on March 5 and game seven would be in Campbell River on March 6.
NOTES: You can vote for your fan-favourite Storm player online here. The winner will be announced during the first round of playoffs.