Storm gearing up for KIJHL post-season
There is nothing like playoff hockey and it is just around the corner for the Kamloops Storm, who host Kootenay International Junior Hockey League post-season tilts on Monday, Feb. 14, and Tuesday, Feb. 15.
The Storm play the Doug Birks Division-leading Grizzlies in Revelstoke tonight in what could be a preview of a second-round playoff series (the Doug Birks Division final).
The junior B River City squad closes out the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 12, at home against the Osoyoos Coyotes, who lead the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference with 84 points. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In the first round of the playoffs, Kamloops will welcome either the North Okanagan Knights or the Sicamous Eagles to McArthur Island Sports Centre, which Storm owner and GM Barry Dewar hopes will be jam-packed with spectators.
“The fans make all the difference in the world,” Dewar said. “Attendance has been down a little bit the last little while and we really need that fan support to get the guys going.”
The Storm have had success against both the Knights and the Eagles this season, so Dewar is not particular about which squad shows up in the Tournament Capital on Monday.
“The team that you say you want to play, they’re the one that comes back and bites you in the rear end,” he said.
“We have no preference. Both teams play us tough.”
This season, Kamloops boasts 5-3 and 6-2 records against the Eagles and Knights, respectively.
“North Okanagan has had a pretty up and down year,” said Dewar, who moved the Storm to Kamloops from Osoyoos in 2006.
“When they’re hot, they’re really hot. Same thing with Sicamous. We’ve had some games that have been really tight with them. It should be fun.”
A relatively healthy Storm will not have injuries to blame if they fail to make the division final.
The only player out with injury right now is forward Cody Koskimaki, who is expected to return from a lower body injury in time for Monday’s game.
Defenceman Kurt Torbohm, who has been out since December, will also be back in the lineup when the playoffs start.
Defenceman Mike McCance and forwards Brett Dallen and Dylan Richardson are serving suspensions, but will be in the lineup on Monday.
The plan, Dewar said, is to meet the Coyotes in the Okanagan Conference final.
That matchup would give Dewar and Storm head coach Tyler Liebel, both of whom have lived in Osoyoos, a chance to settle a few scores.
Dewar used to employ Osoyoos’ assistant coach Greig Thomas.
The Coyotes’ other assistant coach, Jeff Taylor, played in Osoyoos under Dewar before the move to Kamloops.
“There’s a bit of a rivalry there,” Dewar said.