Riley Welyk registered his first career VIJHL shutout as the Campbell River Storm crushed the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 7-0 Saturday night in Courtenay. The rookie netminder stopped all 14 shots he faced and improved his personal record to 5-1 since joining the Storm from the Westshore Wolves one month ago.
“It’s a great feeling to get my first shutout,” said Welyk, “That was a goal of mine all season and it’s nice to finally get one. The team played really well tonight – our defense took away their chances and we got some lucky bounces. Things were going my way, I guess.”
The win capped a weekend sweep for the Storm, who outlasted Nanaimo 4-2 in a gritty contest Friday at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
Campbell River faces a three-game weekend beginning Friday with a 6:30 p.m. game in Saanich. A Saturday matchup with Oceanside in Parksville follows, and the weekend wraps up with a 4 p.m. contest against the Glacier Kings at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
Storm head coach Lee Stone praised his young goaltender for stepping up in the absence of regular starter Jesse Michel, who has missed the past three weeks with a lower body injury.
“Kudos to Riley,” he said, “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and more – beating Victoria in his first game and then beating our rivals Comox Valley here tonight. For me as a coach it’s a real thrill to see a young player score his first goal in junior hockey or, in this case, get his first shutout.”
Welyk received all the offensive support he needed from the line of Colin Blake, Will McNamara, and Tyler Welsh, which combined for thirteen points. Blake led the way with a pair of markers, while McNamara and Gage Colpron each notched their league-leading 36th goals of the season. Welsh, Dane Feeney, and defenseman Nathan Browne added singles. The Storm was without three regulars – Gavin Rauser, Connor Logan, and Ryan Grills – all called up for the night by the Powell River Kings. But, the line-up received a major boost with the return of high scoring left winger Michael Olson from injury.
“It was kind of unexpected, but with Rauser and Logan going up (to Powell River), we had a hole to fill,” said Coach Stone, “I thought Michael looked good for his first game back. He was moving the puck well, and had a couple of decent chances. He’s a really important piece to our puzzle.”
Campbell River, which went 2 for 5 on the power play, led 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 after two. They outshot the Glacier Kings by a 39-14 margin.
Storm 4, Buccaneers 2
A monster second period proved the difference Friday at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
Josiah Friesen, Tyler Welsh and Will McNamara scored unanswered goals as the Storm pulled away from a 1-1 tie and took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission while outshooting the visitors 22-4 in the period.
The Storm gave up the game’s opening goal to Nik Malencia in the first two minutes of play, but Colpron drew Campbell River even with a goal off assists from Zack Sanderson and Feeney midway through the period. Otherwise, the squad seemed unable to gain any traction offensively as Nanaimo outshot Campbell River 11-10 in the first.
Taking the ice to start the second, however, the Storm were again the team that has dominated the Northern Division all year. Campbell River jumped ahead just 45 seconds into the period when Friesen converted on Rauser’s drop pass in the low slot, and the Storm notched the first 13 shots of the period while exhibiting a dominant forecheck from all of their lines.
Nanaimo did not manage a shot on goal in the period until getting its first power play more than 10 minutes in, and the Storm successfully killed that penalty before pushing ahead 3-1 on their own man-advantage chance, when Welsh scored off another nifty pass from Rauser at 14:36.
Many of the Storm’s shots were quality opportunities, and only some solid work in goal from Buccaneer netminder Greg Maggio kept the contest from getting out of hand.
McNamara made it 4-1 with just 57 seconds left in the second when he punched home a point-blank rebound of Welsh’s shot from the bottom of the left circle.
Nanaimo briefly seemed to regain momentum early in the third when Hobin Zinck scored on a power play at 4:03 to make it a 4-2 game, but Welyk and the defence kept the Buccaneers at bay until Campbell River’s attackers once again established control over the final 10 minutes.
“There’s no question we had a good effort against Nanaimo,” Stone said, “I thought we locked it up defensively for the most part. They got one goal off the rush where we didn’t back check hard enough, but other than that we pretty much shut them down. Their other goal was a bit of a lucky bounce.”