Special to the Mirror
The Saanich Braves finished the regular season in eighth place in the VIJHL, 49 points behind Campbell River. Not aware that they were supposed to roll over, the crossover team from the South Division battled the Storm hard and forced a Game 6 on Wednesday in Saanich.
Immediately following the 3-1 loss on Tuesday, Storm coaches and players met behind closed doors.
Head Coach Lee Stone admits that his team underestimated their opponent, “Unfortunately, our guys looked at their record in the regular season and assumed we’d sweep them away and that’s not how it works.”
Stone was impressed but not surprised by the play of Saanich, “We played a lot of playoff hockey last year, outside of the four games with Victoria, I don’t think we played a team as intense as the Saanich Braves.”
On Wednesday, the team responded well and handed the Braves a 9-1 trouncing, at George Pearkes Arena, eliminating them 4 games to two.
Dylan McCann, who opened the scoring at 2:21 of the first period, returned to the line-up after serving a one game suspension. His speed keeps defenders honest and his return was welcome news to the team. McCann scored two goals on the night.
Carter Hikichi and Kobe Oishi, each had a pair of goals while Josh Coblenz, Trevor Bottomley and Colin Blake had singles.
Campbell River now advances to the North Division Final series against the Nanaimo Buccaneers starting on Tuesday at Rod Brind’Amour Arena (7:30 puck drop).
Since becoming a member of the Storm at the trade deadline on Jan. 10, netminder Jake Mullen has been a standout. He was good during the late stages of the regular season but it has been the playoffs that has defined his brief time with the Storm. He was the recipient of much attention from Saanich forwards in round one. With Mullen working on a shutout in the opening game, Nick Kean, elbowed him in the head during a second period skate by, knocking him out of action until Game 3; Kean earned a two-game suspension for his actions. In Game 4, with a comfortable 5-1 lead in the third, Kean, again skated by Mullen this time taking his legs out from under him. Despite the rough treatment, Mullen, was stellar in his 4 playoff wins sporting a 1.36 GAA and a .943 SV percentage. He has yet to record a loss in a Campbell River Storm uniform.
In other Storm news, the league’s leading regular season goal scorer, Gage Colpron, was inserted into the lineup on Wednesday although he saw very little ice time. In making the decision to dress but play him sparingly, the coaching staff felt that his presence on the bench would be a motivator. Colpron scored 46 goals in 41 games and was thought to be lost for the rest of the season after a Jan. 26 upper body injury.