The Campbell River Storm remain the hottest team in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, boosting their league-leading record to a perfect 8-0 after a pair of hard-fought victories over the weekend.
On Friday night, the locals rode the wave of another large home crowd to a 6-2 triumph over the Westshore Wolves in a battle of division leaders. They followed that up Saturday in Courtenay with dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over the scrappy Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
Storm head coach Lee Stone said it’s tough staying keeping the streak alive and every game is becoming more difficult.
“Everyone is gunning for us now. At 8-0, they all want to be the team that knocks us off. I remember last year Nanaimo started something like 8-0 and we were the team to hand them their first loss – it really fired us up and we ended up going on a long unbeaten streak of our own.”
Friday night’s tilt against Westshore was much closer than the 6-2 final indicates. In fact, the score could easily have been reversed if not for the brilliant play of Storm netminder Joey Karrer.
“That’s why we made the trade for him,” said Stone. “He wanted to be a starting goalie, we had that hole to fill, and he’s taken full advantage of it.”
Karrer was especially busy in the opening period when he stopped all twenty shots the Wolves fired at him.
“It helped getting all that action right off the bat,” said the Smithers native, whom the Storm acquired from the Peninsula Panthers during the off-season.
Campbell River jumped to a 2-0 first period lead thanks to defenseman Joe Gage’s first goal of the season, and a great individual effort by Christian Brandt, who banged in his own rebound after an end-to-end rush.
The hard-working left winger then made it 3-0 early in the second, capitalizing on a strong Storm fore-check. Brandt currently leads all VIJHL rookies in goals with seven.
Westshore finally got on track when Connor Krupa scored on a shorthanded breakaway and Spencer Preece closed the gap to one, squeezing a wrap-around past Karrer midway through the third to make it 3-2. But that’s as close as the Wolves got as the Storm regained control with goals by Colin Blake, Michael Olson, and Gavin Rauser.
Saturday in Courtenay, the Storm overcame a sluggish start and a 2-0 deficit to post their second straight overtime win over the Glacier Kings.
“It’s always going to be tough playing against those guys (Comox Valley),” said Coach Stone. “Quite frankly, we’re just happy to come down here and steal two points.”
Veteran Michael Olson was the game’s first star, scoring twice and setting up the winner 59 seconds into overtime. His quick wrist shot handcuffed Glacier Kings goalie Blake Pearson. allowing Zack Sanderson to pounce on the rebound.
The Storm will attempt to make it nine in a row Friday night with a home game against the second place Nanaimo Buccaneers.