In measuring up his first round opponents, Comox Valley Glacier Kings coach Mike Nesbitt emphasized games versus the Campbell River Storm at times seem like a heavyweight title prizefight.
“We’re close neighbours. Obviously this is a rivalry,” said Nesbitt before game one Tuesday evening. “There are some guys on my team that have played for the Storm, and vice versa. We’re hoping to play some good hockey right off the hop.”
Storm coach Jordan Rauser seemed to agree with that statement.
“It’s a do or die mentality,” said Rauser. “Obviously, these guys are good. Their top nine and top 12 in general are very good. They are very deep.”
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If it were a prizefight however, the consistent traps which the Storm sprung on the Glacier Kings throughout the game would have been all the difference, as a pair of power play markers in the first and third periods were enough for Campbell River to win 3-1 and take a one game lead in the VIJHL North Division semi-finals.
After an intense opening first period, which saw Campbell River out-shoot the Glacier Kings 17-7, forward Mitchell Finner opened the scoring with about 20 seconds left on the first period clock, taking a pass from Justin Gyori and burying it past Comox Valley goaltender Steven Reganato to give the home team the early lead.
The Storm doubled their lead at the six- and-a-half-minute mark of the second on a goal by Quinn Messer. Comox Valley refused to lay down, cutting into the Storm’s lead at 10:23 of the middle stanza, on a goal by forward Aodhan Hildebrandt.
It seemed another one goal game was in the script, before Brady Estabrook’s power play goal at 11:32 of the final frame.
The Storm finished two-for-five on the power play, but Nesbitt was pretty blunt as to his team’s lack of discipline being the difference in the disappointing result.
“We were down in shots, they had us in the first period,” explained Nesbitt. “Discipline is always the way with this team. We gotta using our heads and be positive.”
Rauser lauded his teams efforts, especially the one of goaltender Nick Peters, who had 31 saves in the win.
“I’d argue that Nick is one of, if not the best goalie in the VIJHL,” said Rauser. “He’s been one of our best playoff performers for two years now. Hopefully he can bring that intensity tomorrow.”
Game two is tonight in Comox Valley at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, with puck drop at 7:15 pm. Game three goes Friday, March 3 at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River at 7:30 p.m.