For a brief moment, the Kamloops Storm dragged themselves out of the Doug Birks Division basement.
They earned two victories on the road last weekend — 3-2 over Spokane (11-12-0-2) on Friday and 6-4 over the Castlegar Rebels (6-12-0-0) on Saturday — to inch ahead of the Sicamous Eagles.
Sicamous has since caught Kamloops and the teams are tied for last place in the division, but the Storm have shifted focus to catching the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
“We’ve been champing at it to find some momentum all year,” Storm head coach Steve Gainey told KTW. “It’s been an interesting battle of why and why nots.
“We’ve tried to stay positive, even through some real challenging times. We’re hoping last weekend is enough to get us in that place where we start to turn the corner and become the team we’ve expected to be for most of this year.”
Birks Division standings: Revelstoke (33 points), Chase (30 points), 100 Mile (27 points), Sicamous (17 points) and Kamloops (17 points). The top four teams qualify for the post-season.
Gainey cited improving special teams, noting signs last weekend suggest both the power-play and penalty-killing units are starting to meld.
The Storm scored three goals on five power-play attempts and successfully killed eight of nine opposition power plays.
Kamloops has the 19th-ranked power play and 14th-ranked penalty kill in the 20-team Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
“Our penalty kill has been strong for a few weeks, but it hasn’t been paying off quite yet for us,” Gainey said. “It was good on the weekend and our power play finally clicked.
“I think we’re going to start to see a few more wins, with shaving a few off the PK and picking up a few on the power play.
“It might just be enough to get us past those one-goal games we’ve been having.”
Storm goaltender Jakob Drapeau was named the league’s third star of the week for the period ending last Sunday.
The Prince George product stopped 54 of 60 shots, posting a .900 save percentage and 3.00 goals-against average.
Kamloops will play the Posse (10-10-1-2) in Princeton on Friday. The Wranglers will be in the Tournament Capital on Sunday. Game time is 5 p.m. at Memorial Arena.
“Now we turn our sights up to the team just above us, 100 Mile, and we get to play them this Sunday, so we’re excited about that,” Gainey said.