The Campbell River Storm padded their lead atop the VIJHL standings after sweeping the Peninsula Panthers in a home-and-home series played over the weekend.
Friday night at the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich, Campbell River scored three times on the power play enroute to a 6-2 victory. Back at home Sunday afternoon, the Storm erupted for four straight goals in the second period and then coasted to an 8-4 triumph.
“I thought Friday night was one of our best road games of the year,” said Storm head coach Lee Stone. “We got pucks deep, got in on the forecheck, and didn’t have many turnovers. On Sunday we scored those four goals in the second period and let up. We were really lackluster defensively – even though we had a good lead I would have liked a better effort in the third period.”
The Storm (16-2-1) hold a two point lead on the Victoria Cougars (15-2-1) for top spot in the overall VIJHL standings and have a seven point advantage over the second place Comox Valley Glacier Kings (11-6-1-3) in the North Division standings.
Gage Colpron, Michael Olson, and Trevor Bottomley each had a goal and an assist for the locals on Friday night. Singles went to Grady McInnes, Zack Sanderson, and Tyler Welsh, while Dane Feeney and Nathan Browne contributed a pair of helpers. The Storm outshot the Panthers by a 37-17 margin.
Storm fans saw a much closer contest on Sunday, at least until the midway point. Campbell River jumped to a 3-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes on goals by Christian Brandt, Tyler Welsh, and James Severs. However, Peninsula closed the gap the 3-2 when Nathan Looysen and Hunter Frampton scored just over a minute apart. Storm defenseman Trevor Bottomley then answered with the key goal of the night, snapping home a quick wrist shot after a solo rush down the right wing.
“He’s not overly fast or overly aggressive, but he’s smart and always in position,” Storm defensive coach Curtis Toneff said of the rookie blueliner. “He also sees the ice well, and in this league, if you see the ice well you can do a lot of damage.”
Welsh and Severs followed up Bottomley’s heroics minutes later, each notching their second of the contest, while Browne and Feeney finished off the Campbell River scoring.
The newly assembled line of Welsh, Severs, and Connor Logan had a solid debut, combining for six points.
“Welsh and Logan are two hard-working forwards and they get the puck to Severs, who has that big shot,” said Toneff. “They are a nice line to watch.”
The Storm will have their head coach back behind the bench for their next game. Stone has served his five game suspension and returns tonight (Wednesday) for a clash with the Saanich Braves in Victoria. He expects to have a pair of affiliate players in the line-up for that game: Liam Nijhoff of Courtenay and former Tyee Josh Coblenz.
Next home game for the Storm is Friday night when the Storm play host to the Nanaimo Buccaneers.