Heading into week 11 of the season, the Campbell River Storm held a two-point lead over the Nanaimo Buccaneers in the VIJHL North Division.
Needless to say, with a home and home series scheduled with the Bucs, this was an important weekend for both teams.
The Storm made the best of it, edging their Central Island foes 4-3 in double overtime on Thursday at the NIC then dismantling them the following night, 5-1 at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
Head Coach Lee Stone decided to move Defenceman Joe Gage to a forward position and the move paid dividends.
The 19-year-old Campbell Riverite scored two goals on the weekend including the overtime winner in Nanaimo.
“He’s a big body that skates,” Stone said.
“He may have been one of our best forwards, and we’re going to keep him there.”
Commenting on his team’s performance after the 5-1 victory at home, Stone said it was the first time since the first game of the season they’ve put in a full 60-minute effort.
Alex Rosolowsky would open the scoring Friday night early in the second period off a centring pass from Gage Colpron.
Midway through the frame, Joe Gage would score his second goal of the season thanks in large part to havoc in front of the Nanaimo net caused by Dylan McCann.
While goalie Alex Orth and defenceman Jake Calverley were busy dealing with McCann, Gage wristed the puck into the open net.
Christian Brandt would make it 3-0 with just over three minutes remaining in the period.
Braeden Cyra working hard behind the net passed to Brandt in the high slot and he rifled a shot past Orth before the netminder could get set.
Campbell River’s domination was absolute in the second period outshooting the visitors 22-1.
Nanaimo was penned into their own zone most of the period and Orth had to continually contend with bodies in front of him.
In the third period, Colpron would steal the puck off of Calverley at the Storm blueline and beat Orth on the breakaway to make it 4-0.
Nanaimo would get on the board midway through the final period while Campbell River had two players in the box. Nolan Richardson would beat Matt Kostiw over the shoulder after a perfect feed from Buc’s captain Jordan Levesque.
The final goal of the night would come with 1.6 seconds left on the clock. McCann would pounce on a rebound after a Trevor Bottomley blast from the point. The goal raised the roof at the packed barn.
Gage received first star honours for his performance that night. Second and third stars went to Cyra and Rosolowsky, respectively.
The wins improve Campbell River’s record to 15-5-1-1, good enough for first place in the North Division with a five-point cushion over the second place Buccaneers.
The Storm have a three-game weekend ahead starting on Friday at home against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings at 7:30 p.m. The team then heads to Parksville Saturday for a game against the Generals and returns for a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Saanich Braves.