The Campbell River Storm overcame a spate of injuries and the flu bug to record a pair of gutsy victories last weekend.
At home on Friday night, Connor Logan scored twice in a 5-1 win over the Nanaimo Buccaneers, while Jesse Michel posted a shut-out on Saturday as the Storm downed the Islanders 4-0 in Kerry Park.
Campbell River has now won five in a row, nine of its last ten games, and continues to lead the overall Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League standings with a remarkable record of 19-2-1.
On the weekend the Storm managed to keep its current win streak alive despite playing without flu-ridden forwards Christian Brandt and Zack Sanderson, plus the loss of steady defenceman Nathan Browne and high-scoring centreman Dane Feeney to injuries.
“We’ve been playing really good hockey the past couple of weeks,” said Storm head coach Lee Stone. “We started to realize the way we need to play – which is get the puck deep and go to work down low. More importantly, our overall team defence has been excellent, especially during these past two games.”
The improved defensive play coincides with the arrival of new goaltender Michel, who has recorded two shutouts and allowed just one goal against since taking over in the Storm net three games ago.
“The addition of Michel has really stabilized us on the backend,” said Stone. “He’s big and moves well but the biggest thing he brings to our team is personality and leadership. He gets the guys fired up and everyone knows he’s there to bail us out if need be.”
Campbell River built a 3-0 lead against Nanaimo on goals by Logan, James Severs, and defenceman Devyn Grant. The Buccaneers managed to get one past Michel late in the second period but Logan and Gage Colpron scored 23 seconds apart midway through the third to salt away the victory. Final shots on goal favoured the Storm, 52-30.
The Storm got off to another quick start against Kerry Park, jumping out to a 2-0 first period advantage on goals by Logan and line mate Tyler Welsh, who leads all rookies in scoring with 32 points. The Islanders tried to get back in the game with a physical approach in the second period, but the Storm made them pay with a pair of power-play markers by veteran winger Michael Olson.
“He’s a goal scorer, no doubt about it,” Stone said of Olson. “I kind of had a feeling he was going to break out this year and have a great season. Both of his goals tonight were post-and-in. He’s definitely fun to watch.”
Olson and teammate Colin Blake are tied for first place in league scoring, each with 34 points. Sam McMullen of the Victoria Cougars is one point behind.
The Storm go for its 20th win of the season Friday night when the Saanich Braves roll into town. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.