Brett Lervold scored at 2:20 of overtime to give the hometown Victoria Cougars a 4-3 win over the Campbell River Storm in a battle of first place teams played Sunday afternoon at Archie Browning Arena.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Storm, who battled back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead with three goals in the third period. However, they failed to contain league-leading scorer Sam McMullen in the dying moments as the crafty Cougars’ centreman first set up the tying goal by Aiden Silzer-Hooker with just six seconds left on the clock, and then Lervold’s OT winner.
“That’s Sam McMullen for you, he’s an incredible hockey player”, commented Storm head coach Lee Stone, “We shut him down the whole game and then he finds a way to make a play with six seconds left – that’s what great players do. We’ll be ready for him next time.”
The Cougars came out hitting and had the Storm on their heels through much of the opening period. Michael Fretz gave Victoria a 1-0 lead at 13:48 of the first, and Lane Van de Wetering doubled the advantage early in the second. But after a time-out, Campbell River finally got rolling. They carried the play, hit a crossbar, had a goal called back, and ended up out-shooting the Cougars 22-8 during the middle frame.
Will McNamara got the locals on the board three minutes into the third with a high wrist shot that caught the top corner. Colin Blake tied it at 16:21 of the third, sliding a rebound past Victoria goaltender Anthony Ciurro. A minute and a half later, Gage Colpron gave the Storm their first lead of the game, scoring high over Ciurro’s glove after a beautiful pass by Gavin Rauser.
“I was really happy with our resiliency to battle back in the third period like that,” said Stone, “We were missing some bodies (due to injury), and then lost Michael Olson in the first period, but we still out-played them for most of the game. When we play the Cougars its always great hockey – two very skilled teams that love to skate and pass the puck – I don’t know too many people that wouldn’t have enjoyed watching that game.”
The Storm began the week’s work with a 7-3 victory over the Nanaimo Buccaneers Thursday night in the Harbour City. Michael Olson scored the game winner at 5:13 of the third period, converting a perfectly executed two-on-one with Will McNamara. Campbell River trailed 3-1 after the first period, but roared back with six straight to seal the win. Gage Colpron and Colin Blake each tallied twice, while McNamara and Gavin Rauser added singles. McNamara also contributed four assists. Storm netminder Jesse Michel had a busy night as Nanaimo out-shot the locals 37-34.
Friday night at home, the Storm again rallied from a two goal deficit in a 6-4 triumph over the Saanich Braves. After falling behind 2-0, Colpron tallied a pair of second period power-play goals to spur the comeback. McNamara had another productive outing, scoring twice and adding two assists. Olson and Kobe Oishi also found the back of the net for Campbell River, which played the game without seven regulars.
Emergency call-ups from the Midget Tyees included goaltender Nic Kirchner, defenseman Tyson Dumont, along with forwards Owen Boyd and Travis Goodwin. Despite the depleted line-up, the Storm still managed to out-shoot the visiting Braves 44-20.