The last time the Campbell River Storm was this good, Jean Chretien was the Prime Minister, Lord of the Rings topped the box office, and Peter Forsberg won the NHL scoring title.
Yes, it’s been a while, but the boys are back.
The Storm matched a team record for best start to a season with a 6-2 home ice triumph over the Nanaimo Buccaneers on Friday night.
It was their ninth straight victory, matching the club mark set at the beginning of the Storm’s 2003/04 campaign. Coincidentally, that was the last time Campbell River won the Brent Patterson Memorial Trophy as champions of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
The Storm beat the Bucs for the third straight time Friday with a familiar combination of balanced scoring and solid goaltending. A pleasant surprise for the 887 fans on hand was the power play, which sprang to life after lying dormant most of the season, going three for seven and creating a bushel of chances.
“There’s some (power play) stuff we’ve been working on and (Friday) it paid a lot of dividends,” said Storm head coach Lee Stone. “We got a back-door goal and (Christian) Brandt had a great one from the slot – we’re really starting to use all the options and finding the right targets. We have three power play units that can all score, most teams in our league would love to have just one.”
Dane Feeney opened the scoring for the Storm with his first of the season, only to have Nanaimo’s Trent Bell equalize a few minutes later. Gavin Rauser put Campbell River back in front before the end of the first, banging in a nice goal-mouth pass by Grady McInnes.
James Severs made it 3-1 with a power play marker but the Buccaneers carried much of the play during the middle frame, peppering Storm netminder Joey Karrer with 19 shots. They finally got one by the stingy Campbell River goalie late in the second when Hobin Zinck shovelled a loose puck into the net after everyone in the building thought the play was dead.
However, the Storm took only 15 seconds to get that one back as defenceman Andy
Stevens broke down the left wing and set up Tyler Welsh who one-timed it over the shoulder of Nanaimo goaltender Greg Maggio.
Campbell River then closed it out with third period tallies by Michael Olson and Christian Brandt, his team leading eighth of the season.
Newly acquired Connor Logan registered one assist in his Storm debut and admitted he had some butterflies playing in front of a big home crowd.
“The crowd was jumping right off the bat, that’s not what I’m used to, for sure,” said the six- foot 174 pound centreman, picked up in a trade last week with the Peninsula Panthers. “I was a little nervous at first but felt more comfortable as the game went along. Our line (with Severs and Gavin Rauser) played with a lot of energy, created chances, and we started to develop some chemistry.”
Stone said it was evident there were some first-night jitters from Logan.
“Connor (Logan) was squeezing his stick a little too tight in the first period,” said Coach Stone, “but toward the end of the second and into the third period he got a lot better. It’s really nice when you can roll four strong lines and that made all the difference for us tonight.”
The Storm were attempting to break the team record with a tenth straight win Tuesday night in Victoria against the Westshore Wolves after the Mirror went to press. Results were not available at press time but fans can check VIJHL.com for results.
The next home game is Friday night against the Kerry Park Islanders, the first meeting of the season between the two teams.