If the Campbell River Storm were starting to look like Supermen during their eleven game unbeaten streak, they found their kryptonite last weekend in the form of the Peninsula Panthers.
Not only did the Panthers end the Storm’s winning ways with a 3-2 win Friday night in North Saanich, they also gave the locals all they could handle during Sunday’s rematch, a 4-1 Campbell River victory at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
“That wasn’t a 1-and-13 team we played this weekend, not even close,” said Storm head coach Lee Stone, referring to Peninsula’s record, “That team is going to win a lot of games – it would not surprise me if they pushed their way up to the middle of the pack in their division. Will Harvey (the Panther’s goaltender) is back from an injury and played really well, that made a huge difference for them.”
The defensively-minded Panthers, who made it all the way to the VIJHL league finals last season, trapped, clogged passing lanes, and blocked shots to neutralize the Storm’s high-octane offence. According to Stone, it’s a style his players should probably get used to.
“Peninsula did what I expect a lot of teams are going to start doing against us,” he said. “In the big picture, as frustrating as it was, this may turn out to be an important weekend. It taught us a lot about ourselves and what we need to do every night when we show up at the rink. Other teams are going to try to do exactly the same thing – take away our time and space – and it’s up to us to fight through it and score playoff-style goals.”
Campbell River tallied first in Friday night’s contest, a power-play marker by Michael Olson. The Panthers then reeled off three straight before Storm newcomer Nathan Browne made it 3-2 with his first of the season in his debut with the team.
“It was on the power-play, I think Zack Sanderson passed it back and I got the one-timer off,” said the 20 year-old defenseman, acquired in a trade last week, “This is a great group of guys here – I’m really excited to be onboard and want to help out any way I can.”
The Storm also scored first in Sunday’s rematch.
Defenseman Trevor Bottomley crept in from the point and snapped a shot over Harvey’s shoulder at 10:01 of the opening period. However, Peninsula tied it less than two minutes later when Josh Poland picked up a rebound in the slot and fired it home.
The score remained deadlocked until early in the third period when tireless Christian Brandt notched the eventual game winner, banging in a loose puck for his ninth of the season. Campbell River then iced it with a pair of empty netters, the first by Gage Colpron, and the final one off the stick of affiliate-player Tyson Goebel.
“That was really nice to see,” said Stone. “Tyson played with the midgets earlier and then came to our game, and I thought for a good chunk of the game he might have been one of our better forwards. You could see the reaction on our bench when he scored. He’s a very well-liked kid in our room, comes to practise every day and works his tail off. He deserved it.”
The Storm outshot the Panthers 38-26 as rookie netminder Kyle Cheema picked up his third win between the pipes.
“It was a tough one,” said Cheema, “I don’t think I got my first shot until eleven minutes into the game and that makes it difficult. But things got better in the second when they got more shots, I made some saves, and that boosted my confidence. In the end, we won, and that’s all that matters.”
The Storm played without one of their
leading scorers, Dane Feeney, who was serving a one game suspension and is also suffering from an upper
Coach Stone hopes to have the shifty forward back in time for their next game, Friday night at home against the Kerry Park Islanders.