A spectacular overtime goal by Colin Blake highlighted a triumphant opening weekend for the Campbell River Storm.
The revamped Storm climbed into first place in the VIJHL North Division standings thanks to a pair of victories, one a nail biter and the other a blow-out.
Blake put an end to an entertaining home debut Saturday night before a large crowd of over 900 at Rod Brind’Amour Arena, scoring the winner with just over a minute left in overtime as Campbell River edged the Comox Valley Glacier Kings 4-3.
“To score a goal like that in OT in front of the best fans in the league was very exciting and a great confidence booster,” said a jubilant Blake.
The shifty Storm forward took a lead pass at centre ice, beat both defencemen and roofed a backhand shot past Glacier King’s goaltender Riley Mathieson.
“It was a special moment to see Blakey score that goal in his first game back with the team,” said Head Coach Lee Stone. “He has really paid his dues, dedicated himself to learning the game, and now it’s paying off.”
Campbell River jumped out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period on goals by Tyler Welsh, James Severs, and Christian Brandt.
However, Comox Valley fought back with a pair of markers by Liam Shaw, the second on a power play with just 6:26 left to play, sending the game to an extra session.
The Storm outshot the Glacier Kings by a final count of 36-31, including 5-0 in overtime.
The two rivals, expected to battle all season for the North Division title, meet again Sept. 27 in the Comox Valley.
It was a completely differently story Saturday night as the locals scored in the first minute of the contest and spoiled the Oceanside Generals home opener with a convincing 8-0 victory.
Zack Sanderson and the game’s first star Christian Brandt paced the attack with two goals apiece, while singles went to Tyler Welsh, Grady McInnes, Severs, and Josiah Friesen.
Joey Karrer earned the shutout as the Storm outshot the Generals 54-19.
Coach Stone said his team got better as the weekend progressed.
“On Friday night [against Comox] I thought we got off to a bit of a slow start but managed to come together and pull out a win. Saturday against Oceanside was exactly what we were looking for – we played really well with a lot of speed and structure to our game.”
Stone was especially impressed with his team’s balanced attack, noting that 14 different players registered at least one point during the weekend.
“The nice thing was we had Welsh, Severs, and (Kobe) Oishi with two points each on Friday night, and then also we’re talking about Christian Brandt, Trevor Bottomley and a bunch of others – it’s not just one or two names.”
The Storm is back in action this weekend with a home ice double header.
Friday night the team entertains the Nanaimo Buccaneers while saturday is expected to be their toughest contest to date when the VIJHL champion Victoria Cougars roll into town.