Raging Storm welcome Heat
When the Chase Heat burn into Kamloops this weekend, they better be prepared for a rolling Storm.
Kamloops, as of KTW’s Wednesday, Sept. 27, press deadline, was tied with the Revelstoke Grizzlies atop the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League standings with nine points after six games.
The Storm, on a three-game winning streak, welcome the Heat, winless in five, to McArthur Island Sports Centre at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30.
“I’ve been impressed with a lot of things so far,” Kamloops head coach Geoff Smith said.
“The players are working very hard and playing with a lot of emotion and passion for the game.”
Both Smith and Barry Dewar, the club’s owner/GM, raved about the play of netminder Lyndon Stanwood, who has played five games, posting a 1.71 GAA and a 95.59 save percentage.
“He shouldn’t be playing at this level,” Dewar said.
“He’s way too good to be playing here.”
Stanwood, 18, tried to catch on with several B.C. Hockey League teams in the off-season, but there were no takers.
“It’s a great thing for us and too bad for the kid,” Dewar said.
The bulk of Kamloops’ scoring has come from six forwards — Tyler Jackson, Colten DeFrias, Brett Dallen, Chase Edwards, Kevin Leschuk and Brody Moen.
Jackson is the team’s captain. DeFrias, Dallen and Edwards are alternates.
The forwards will get a boost when 18-year-old Scott Freberg returns from injury, which he is expected to do this week.
An already-stalwart defensive core will get stronger when Ryan Skinner, one of the team’s top blue liners, returns from injury.
He is also expected to be back in the lineup in time for Friday’s game.
Smith said before the season he wants the Storm to play a free-flowing, up-tempo style of gritty hockey.
After six games (yes, it’s early-going yet), Kamloops seems to be picking up what their coach is putting down.
“They’ve took it upon themselves within the room to make sure we play with quite a lot of energy every game,” said Smith, formerly an assistant with the WHL’s Blazers.
The Storm’s only regulation-time loss of the season — a 6-2 loss to Revelstoke at McArthur — came on Sept. 18.
It was the team’s third game in three nights.
Kamloops travels to Kelowna to play the Chiefs on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Are the Storm for real this season? This weekend’s action will provide more answers to that question.