For the second time this season, the league-leading Campbell River Storm have a new head coach.
This week, the team announced that it had hired Mike Wilson to step behind the bench, replacing Cam Basarab. Basarab, himself, had signed on with the team as assistant to Lee Stone last June.
Wilson was an associate coach with the Storm from 2015 to 2017 and was there for the team’s two Cyclone Taylor Cup appearances. Originally from North Delta, Wilson played junior in the PJHL and collegiate hockey with the University of the Fraser Valley and Concordia University of Edmonton.
“Mike was a fast skilled player and that has been reflected in his coaching style,” the team’s news release says. “He also places a strong emphasis on education.”
In November, the team announced that Stone was stepping down as coach and general manager, though he would remain involved with the Storm as a member of the administrative staff. In December, it was confirmed that Stone had taken an assistant coach position with the Junior A South Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. He is still listed on the team directory.
The latest move comes as a bit of a mystery, with only a month to go in the regular season and an automatic berth as hosts for this year’s Cyclone Taylor Cup in April. The team’s news release gives no reason for the decision, saying only, “The Storm organization would like to thank Cam Basarab and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
The team weathered the first coaching change on the ice. In an interview with the Mirror, Basarab indicated the transition had been smoother than people might have assumed. He was chosen as coach for the recent all-star game and was to have helped coached this weekend in the VIJHL Prospects Game.
The Mirror tried to contact Basarab by phone. He said via email he was not presently available by phone, adding he preferred not to make any public statement as he felt it would not be beneficial to himself, the players or “the situation as a whole.” The newspaper has also contacted team director Linda Lahtinen for further comment but has not heard back as of press time.
Even with the coaching changes, the players have continued to thrive, leaving the team atop the league standings. As of this week, Campbell River had racked up 86 points in 39 games, leaving them more than 20 points up in the North Division on second-place Nanaimo. South-leading Victoria has 81 points in 39 games.
The Storm are back at home this weekend, with games on Friday night against Saanich and Saturday night against Oceanside. Game time for each is 7:30 p.m.