Maybe it was the visit by tournament VIP Ray Borque that inspired them off-ice during the Keystone Cup Western Canadian Junior B hockey championship in Cold Lake, Alta.
On the ice, it was their comprehensive team approach as the Campbell River Storm made history by becoming the first Island squad to win the Keystone Cup with a 6-3 victory over the North Edmonton Red Wings on Sunday.
“We brought the glory back to Campbell River Storm hockey, but we one-upped it,” said GM and head coach Lee Stone.
He was referring to the seven consecutive Island championships the Storm won from 1998 to 2005 while packing Rod Brind’Amour Arena. Included in that stretch was a bronze medal at the 1999 Keystone Cup. Campbell River then hosted the Keystone tournament in 2006, losing to the Red Deer Vipers in overtime in the championship game.
The Storm’s run through the 2015 post-season was clinical as the club went 13-1 overall through the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs, Cyclone Taylor Cup B.C championship and now the Keystone Cup Western Canadians.
The only Storm loss in the post-season was a 5-4 setback against North Edmonton in the Keystone Cup preliminary round, which the Storm avenged in the championship game.
“We worked hard for the championship through unity and as a team,” said Stone.
“We had six different goal scorers in the championship game. We consistently rolled four lines. All through the playoff season, teams had trouble handling our depth.”
Reece Costain and Jordan Rauser led the Storm with a goal and assist each in the championship game. Other goals came from Trevor Bottomley, Gage Colpron, Kobe Oishi and Gavin Rauser. Dane Feeney added two assists. Storm goaltender Riley Welyk was named player of the game.
Campbell River outshot North Edmonton 34-28. Lisle Smith had two goals for North Edmonton.
In keeping with Stone’s team theme, the Storm were not a factor in the individual points standings of the Keystone. Connor Logan led Campbell River in scoring during the tournament and was tied for fifth place with three goals and seven points.
The Storm finished the preliminary round-robin at 4-1, the Red Wings 3-1-1, Saskatoon Quakers 3-2, Thunder Bay Northern Hawks 2-2-1, host Cold Lake Ice 1-3-1 and Selkirk Fishermen 0-4-1.
The Storm join the 10 past Keystone Cup champions from B.C. — Beaver Valley Nitehawks in 2014, Richmond Sockeyes in 2013 and 2009, Abbotsford Pilots in 2012, Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2010, Osoyoos Storm in 2005, Sicamous Eagles in 2002, Ridge Meadows Flames in 1998 and Columbia Valley Rockies in 1990 and 1989.
“It’s an incredible feeling to win this title. Our goal is to get consistently better as an organization,” said Stone.
“We’ve got three players going on to college teams next fall and six to Junior A teams across Canada.”
They can now say they leave with a championship pedigree.