MISSION, B.C. — The Campbell River Storm claimed the first victory of the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup Friday afternoon at the Mission Leisure Centre with a 6-3 victory over the North Vancouver Wolf Pack.
“You play one game at a time and obviously today’s game was a big one against North Van,” said Lee Stone, Storm head coach and general manager. “We saw them earlier in the year and we knew they had a pretty good top line. I think we did a pretty good job shutting them down for the most part. Anytime you can step up in a tournament like this and start 1-0 it’s big. That’s exactly what we wanted to do.
“We were pretty good in the ‘D’ zone. I think we need to be a little bit better. I don’t think we were as stingy as we usually are…We were real good in the ‘O’ zone, some sustained pressure. That’s how you have to win hockey games. They can’t score from their own end.”
Kelowna native Gage Colpron paced the offense for the Storm, tallying two goals and an assist, including the game-winning goal with shorthanded effort on a two-on-one 48 seconds into the third period.
“Gavin Rauser, we score a few shorthanded goals together,” Colpron said. “He just faked the shot, slid it over and the net was wide open. It was pretty easy.”
The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Colpron opened the scoring midway through the first period Friday afternoon and was named player of the game for Campbell River.
“There was a lot of room. It’s a big rink,” Colpron said. “You just have to keep a clear heart, play your best and that’s it.”
“We just play our game. We don’t know too much about them. Haven’t played them before, so we just stick to our own game, get pucks deep, keep it simple.”
The Storm took a 2-0 lead into the second period of play after 5-foot-7 speedster Dane Feeney executed a jaw-dropping individual effort down the left wing, turning a Wolf Pack defender inside out before going shelf with a quick snap shot over the shoulder of North Vancouver starting netminder Trevor Withers.
Kobe Oishi extended the Storm lead with a power-play goal midway through the second period.
Just as it was looking like Campbell River might run away with the game, Wolf Pack defenceman Shane Kumar broke the goose egg Storm goaltender Jesse Michel had been nursing, cutting into the lead to make it a 3-1 game heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
With a power-play opportunity early in the third period, the Wolf Pack were presented with their best chance to claw back into the contest.
Despite the man advantage for North Vancouver, it was Campbell River making good on special teams, with Colpron and Connor Logan tallying back-to-back shorthanded markers two minutes apart to put the game out of reach for the Wolf Pack.
“Our penalty kill, we call it power kill just because it’s so good,” Stone said. “They’ve been fantastic all year. If we’re going to win a championship here, our penalty kill is going to be great and tonight it was.
“[Colpron] was fantastic tonight. No real surprise. He was real banged up in the [VIJHL] final, so he played through some injuries there. That two-week break was real big for him. Having him fresh and ready to go makes all the difference in the world for us. He’s one of the best right-wingers in Junior B hockey. He comes every night for us. He’s a real leader on and off the ice.”
The fifth goal spelled the end of the afternoon for Withers, as backup Sergio Del-Linz came on in relief.
Wolf Pack forward Mitchell Cristani made the tilt interesting with consecutive goals to make it a 5-3 game, but Storm defenceman Will McNamara added a sixth marker for Campbell River to seal the victory.
Michel turned aside 23 pucks for the win.
The Storm earned their way into the 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup by defeating the Victoria Cougars in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League final.
The Wolf Pack won into the B.C. Junior B provincial championship after getting past the Mission City Outlaws in the Pacific Junior Hockey League final.
Next up, the Storm face the Kimberley Dynamiters Saturday at 3 p.m. (PST).
“They’ve got a fantastic goaltender, who I would argue is the best goalie in all of Junior B right now,” Stone said, speaking to Nitros goaltender Tyson Brouwer. “There’s probably not anyone better. We’ve got to get pucks low on him and create some traffic. He’s got a great glove hand and we’ve got to stay disciplined. Kimberley’s power play is pretty dynamite.”
The Dynamiters and host Mission City Outlaws round out Friday’s games with a 7:30 p.m. (PST) affair at the Mission Leisure Centre.