Storm raise banners, drop foes

Campbell River Junior B squad kicks off defence of VIJHL title with opening-weekend sweep of Nanaimo, Comox

The Storm's Josh Coblenz makes his way in on Comox goalie Paul Broadbent during Sunday's game against the Glacier Kings at Rod Brind'Amour Arena.

After Sunday’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game against the visiting Comox Valley Glacier Kings, Campbell River Storm head coach Lee Stone did not sound like a guy whose team had just posted a 7-3 win.

“Really sloppy second period. We were disappointed with how we came out; I don’t think the third was a heck of a lot better,” Stone said after his team dispatched their league rivals. Stone felt the team wasn’t as sharp as it was in the opener on Friday against Nanaimo but added, “We’ll get there as we work through the kinks. I think we have to be happy scoring 14 goals in the first weekend.”

Expectations are high for the reigning Western Canadian champs to repeat as the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League title holders.

The Storm began the new campaign on Friday with an impressive 7-0 victory over the Nanaimo Buccaneers before close to a thousand faithful at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. The fans had lots of opportunities to cheer.

The Storm struck early and often. Josh Coblenz redirected a point shot from Kenny Britton 1:23 into the first period to open the scoring. Colin Blake made it 2-0, midway through the frame when he blasted a shot on his off wing over the shoulder of Buccaneers’ netminder Alex Orth.

Second period markers came from former Kimberley Dynamiter Alex Rosolowsky and Garrick Heathcote. Rosolowsky’s last goal was against the Campbell River Storm in the Cyclone Taylor Cup final, back in April.

The pressure that Campbell River exerted on Nanaimo was relentless. The ferocity and tenaciousness of the Storm forecheck led to numerous Buccaneer turnovers and was instrumental in the victory. The home team played a full game and showed great patience with the puck.

In the third period, Campbell River built on its 4-0 lead with tallies from Brett Witala, Gage Colpron and Braeden Cyra.

Netminder Matt Kostiw was selected the game’s first star after turning aside all 24 Nanaimo shots.

The story of the Comox Valley game on Sunday was the chemistry between a pair of 20-year-olds from Kelowna. Captain Gage Colpron, the VIJHL’s top goal-scorer last season, had a four-point night while former Kelowna Chief Braeden Cyra scored his first VIJHL hat trick.

“We knew he (Cyra) was a gamer before he came in,” Stone said. “I don’t know if we knew he’d put up this many points this early.”

Colpron’s two goals came just 34 seconds apart. His initial marker, assisted by Marco Divincenzo, was scored with 12 seconds left in the first period while the eventual game winner came just 22 seconds into the next frame on a setup from linemate Colin Blake.

The line of Colpron, Blake and Cyra accounted for 15 points over the two-game set (8 goals, 7 assists). Campbell River went 1 for 16 on the power play and were a perfect 16 for 16 on the penalty kill, including a shorthanded goal from Cyra.

As is the custom in Campbell River, the attendance numbers over the weekend were strong with 989 on hand for Friday night’s championship banner-unveiling ceremony, and a record Sunday afternoon crowd of 726.

The Storm have two more home dates before they head out on the road. On Friday, they host the Oceanside Generals while on Saturday the Saanich Braves come to town. It is not until September 16 that the Storm leave the friendly confines of Strathcona Gardens and head to Colwood to take on the Westshore Wolves.

 

The Storm’s Alex Rosolowsky faces off against Comox Valley’s Grant Iles during Sunday’s game against the Glacier Kings at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. — Image credit: Kristen Douglas/Campbell River Mirror