The Peninsula Panthers gave the Campbell River Storm all they could handle in their opening round series that went a full seven games.
Photo by Troy Landreville/99.7 2day FM/Vista Radio
CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Win or lose in the VIJHL playoffs, the Campbell River Storm will play for the provincial junior B hockey title.
That’s because the Storm are hosting the Cyclone Taylor Cup next month.
And as the hosts, they get automatic entry into a tournament that features the winners of the Kootenay International Hockey League, Pacific Junior Hockey League, VIJHL, and the host team.
The four squads play a round-robin tournament followed by the bronze and gold medal games.
But the Storm don’t want to settle for an automatic berth – they want to earn their way into the provincials.
“It’s the best teams in the province and you want to make sure that you fit in with those teams,” Storm head coach Mike Wilson said. “You don’t want to be the team that came in back door and isn’t competitive. You want to be the team that wins your way there.”
First thing’s first for the Storm. They managed to battle past the Peninsula Panthers in the opening round by erasing a 3-1 series deficit before blanking the Panthers 3-0 in the seventh and deciding game on Sunday at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.
Wilson credited the Panthers for giving the Storm all they could handle.
“It was definitely a challenging series for us,” Wilson said. “They were a good test for us early in the playoffs, to kind of show what we’re really capable of – kind of show how our attitude needs to be for playoff hockey. We’ll need to keep that even keel going forward into the next round.”
Next up for the Storm is the Saanich Braves in the VIJHL semifinal. The best-of-seven series gets underway Friday night at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Wilson said each playoff series represents a clean slate.
“No momentum really carries over between series,” he said. “It’s a brand-new playoffs; it’s a brand new series. That’s the beauty of playoff hockey is that, you get one seven-game series, that one’s done, you can enjoy that one for a minute and then you get ready for the next one.”
Wilson added that there’s a lot of work to be done against a fast, physical Braves team.
“They get in hard on the forecheck,” Wilson said, about the Braves. “We’ve got to be able to take care of the puck, we’ve got to make sure that we’re the more physical team and that we can really utilize our speed and skill and be able to keep the puck on our sticks as much as possible.”
The winner of the Braves/Storm series will advance to the VIJHL final against either the Nanaimo Buccaneers and the Victoria Cougars, who are facing off in the other semifinal.