Special to the Mirror
The Campbell River Storm will defend as 2015 BC Junior ‘B’ Champions, this weekend, at the Cyclone Taylor Cup in Victoria.
As the host league, the VIJHL is permitted two entries into the tournament allowing the Campbell River squad a berth despite their loss in the league finals.
Storm Head Coach, Lee Stone, believes his team has the skills necessary to be successful, “I don’t think there’s any question that we’re as good as any other team; we’re as talented, we work as hard, we’ve got goaltending, defense, forwards.” He adds, “It boils down to can we buy in to the game plan and execute shift to shift.”
They’ll find out soon enough opening the round-robin, at 4:00 on Thursday, against Mission City.
The Storm coach says the Outlaws could benefit from how they responded to adversity in their opening PJHL playoff series.
According to Stone, “They were on the ropes. They were down 3-0 in the series, down 2-0 in that game (Game 4) going into the third period and they crawled their way back.” He warns, “When a group comes together, bonds and does it for each other, that’s a scary thing. Mission has that in their corner.”
Warren Andrews, a former Campbell River Broadcaster, has watched the Outlaws all season long and predicted that they would take the league title even when they were on the verge of elimination.
He points out that the Outlaws have scoring potential in David McGowan and Bryce Pisiak, who were one, two in league scoring, then add Kolby Steen, who picked up 18 goals in 16 playoff games, and you’re left with a team that can turn on the red light.
Mission City has a strong defensive line, led by one of the best Junior B combos in Tristan Dundas and Brock Padgham. Andrews advises, “They have some big players, can come at you in waves and score in bunches.”
On Friday, at 7:30, it’ll be a rematch of the VIJHL Finals when the Cougars host the Storm. The Cougars offence is built around VIJHL leading scorer Nathan Looysen who averaged better than 2 points per game all season.
They also get production from John Kretzschmar, Dom Kolbeins, Brett Lervold and Cody Hodges.
At the back end, Victoria possesses a strong goalie in Anthony Cuirro and an equally capable Gregory Maggio.
On Saturday, 4 p.m. puck drop, Campbell River faces the 100 Mile House Wranglers. Tim Hogg, the voice of the Summerland Steam, says, “The KIJHL’s northernmost franchise is, for some, an unlikely Champion. Personally, being involved in the (semi-final) series between the Wranglers and the Steam, it is no surprise to me that 100 Mile House’s blend of size, physicality, skill and goaltending won them a KIJHL Championship.”
In a league dominated by talented goaltenders, Zane Steeves, was a difference maker; he became stronger as the playoffs progressed. In the last three games of the Finals, he stopped 117 shots and guided his team to the title.
This is a team full of players from the Cariboo and further North that have demonstrated that they can find the net.
Expect offence from Brett Harris, Tyler Povelofskie, Justin Bond and Ryan Friesen.
Stone sums up the Wranglers, “I read a quote from one of their players, Brady Ward, who says we’re just a bunch of Northern kids that like to hit and bang bodies.”
All games are scheduled for the Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt. The medal games are on Sunday.