The Storm’s Kyle Kaufmann tries to centre the puck to Pearce Messer during a scramble for a loose puck in the last minute of last Thursday’s game in Nanaimo. Photo by Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin

Storm remain atop the league – but not by much

Team goes 1-1 last week, hosts second place Nanaimo tonight do defend their spot at the top

The Campbell River Storm are keeping up their league-leading pace despite dropping a game to their nearest competitors last week.

The Storm have been in a tight battle atop the VIJHL standings with the Nanaimo Buccaneers for quite some time, and the two teams squared off in Nanaimo last Thursday for a thrilling game.

It took more than a period for either team to find their opponent’s cage, but Campbell River went up early in the second thanks to Darren Hards’s goal from Kyle Kaufmann and Reid Lindsay.

They would hold onto that lead until the third period, but Nanaimo’s Darian Harris would get the game back to a tie on the powerplay less than three minutes into the period, Cam Nickerson would put the home team up a goal and Billy Walters would increase the lead to two before the midway point in the period.

Campbell River’s Mitch Stapley would manage to get the visitors back within one, but that’s as close as they’d get, finishing with a 3-2 loss.

It would be a different story the following night back at the Brindy, however, as the Westshore Wolves paid a visit to town.

Westshore would open the scoring with a shorthanded goal 14 minutes into the first, which seemed to give the home team a burst, as both Keenan Toal and Ryan Butler managed to find the back of the Wolves’ net before the first buzzer rang out.

The team came out flying in the second period, as well, with Hards scoring the team’s third of the night just 22 seconds into the frame. Dawson Frank would add another to put the Storm up 4-1.

Westshore would get back within one before the end of the period, however.

The third period was a tight-fought battle, with neither team able to score until the Wolves pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker in a last-ditch attempt to even the game, allowing Stapley to find the back of the empty net to put the game away by a score of 5-3.

The Storm remain one point up on the Buccaneers – and host them tonight (Dec. 15) back at the Brindy. Puck drop at 7:30 p.m.

The team will then travel back down-Island to take on the Peninsula Panthers.

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