The Comox Valley Glacier Kings didn’t need any extra motivation heading in to their final series of the regular season against the North Division rival Campbell River Storm. However, with the potential of these two teams meeting in the first round of the playoffs, motivation was inevitable.
“We’re pumped,” said Glacier Kings defenceman Brian Rideout prior to the weekend set. “We love playing these guys. It’s going to be a great weekend of hockey.”
What happens when these two Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League adversaries meet? A total of five goals on 71 combined shots, 16 power plays, three fights, and a staggering 152 penalty minutes – and that was just the latter half of the home-and-away series.
On Friday night, the Glacier Kings were in Campbell River to start the weekend series, looking for their first win in the Rob Brind’Armour Arena since mid-October. Despite outplaying the Storm, and getting nearly twice as many shots on goal, the Icemen suffered a 4-3 defeat.
Tyson Rennie and Brady Janzen scored the first two goals of the contest before Jordan Kamprath and captain Jackson Garrett responded to knot it at 2-2 after two periods of play.
In the third, Josh Cook scored early to retake the lead for the Storm, and Brady Janzen scored shorthanded to give the Storm their second two goal lead of the night. Kasey Ruel responded midway through the frame for the Kings, but it wasn’t enough as goaltender Andy Salazar closed the door to seal the victory for the Storm.
“We outplayed them,” said Kings’ head coach Jordan Butcher. “We got the better chances, they just happened to convert on theirs, and we didn’t. That happens.”
The following night, the Kings returned home looking to finish the season series the same way it began: with a victory. Despite Butcher’s claim that they were not trying to make it a statement game, the Kings came out guns ablaze.
It took just 14 seconds for Garrett Brandsma to open the scoring for the Yetis, cashing in on a rebound on just the second shot of the game. By the end of the first period, the score was 3-0 on goals from Mitch Ball and Derek Nicholson.
In the second period, the furious back-and-forth action continued as both goaltenders – Salazar for Campbell River and Jackson Winkler for the Kings – were on their game. Dixon Wing tallied the lone goal for the Storm before the end of the frame.
In the third period, tempers flared as the teams showed there’s still no love lost between them. Jesse Spooner and Ben Meadows dropped the gloves at the drop of the puck and Brandsma and Riley Ross Nelson duked it out later on. Not even family ties could thwart the rivalry, as cousins Kasey Ruel and Brady Janzen also dropped the mitts in the third.
In all the rough stuff, Derek Nicholson happened to score his second of the game on a power play, giving the Glacier Kings the 4-1 win. Winkler made 39 saves in the victory.
It is quite possible that this won’t be the last meeting between these two rivals, with the way the playoff picture is shaping they could meet in the first round. Despite losing the season series against the Storm 4-5, does Butcher still want to meet them in the playoffs?
“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “It’d be one heck of a seven-game series.”
The final weekend of regular season action starts on Friday night when the Kings visit the Peninsula Panthers. The following night, the playoff picture will become clear as the Glacier Kings host their final game of the regular season against the Saanich Braves in a pivotal matchup which could determine second place overall in the VIJHL. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at Comox Valley Sports Centre Arena No. 1 and can be heard at www.glacierkings.ca.