Hockey fans interested in getting a look at the Kamloops Storm will be able to see how they stack up against a championship contender on Wednesday at Memorial Arena.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies, who waxed the Storm 4-0 in Round 1 of the 2019 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs and went on to win the league title, will be in town for a 7:30 p.m. start.
“When we’re at our best, we can compete with anybody,” said Steve Gainey, the Storm’s first-year head coach.
Gainey has seen enough out of his team to make that statement, including its 6-0 drubbing of the 100 Mile House Wranglers last Friday at Memorial Arena, a victory over a team that is ramping up to host the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
“We got a win, but I liked the energy of the win, as well,” Gainey said. “Everybody was really involved. They’re competing really well.”
Another side of the Storm was on display the next night, when Fernie bumped Kamloops 5-2 at the venerable Victoria Street barn.
“Our guys haven’t been able to get the back-to-backs,” Gainey said. “The energy was good in the room, but it just didn’t come out in the legs. They aren’t ready to do the work in the second game as much as they are with that rush of excitement in the first game of the weekend.”
That ebb-and-flow of energy will not factor into the midweek clash against the Grizzlies. Kamloops is not scheduled to play again until next Wednesday against Sicamous, with puck-drop slated for 7:30 p.m. at Memorial.
Doug Birks Division standings, from first to last: Sicamous (5-4-0-0), Revelstoke (4-1-0-1), Chase (3-3-0-1), 100 Mile House (3-4-0-0) and Kamloops (2-5-0-1).
Therann Kincross, a 20-year-old forward from Victoria, leads the Storm in scoring, with 11 points, including three goals, in eight games.
Among the logjam of players tied for second in the category are a pair of 17-year-old rookie Kamloopsians — forward Harrison Ewert and defenceman Brendan Kirschner.
Gainey said Ewert, who had three goals and four points in a 7-1 win over Creston in Kamloops on Sept. 27, is a strong forward who can handle the puck well and shows impressive game awareness.
Kirschner and 16-year-old Vanderhoof product Brody Johnston earned mention from Gainey.
“They have stepped forward as our most consistent players within that group.”
Jakob Drapeau, a 19-year-old netminder from Prince George, and Ethan Paulin-Hatch, an overage backstop from Fort McMurray, have played in four games apiece and each has one win.
Numbers favour Drapeau, but Gainey said it is too early to read into statistics, as his squad is giving up too many odd-man rushes and shots from the slot.
“Our guys can play better and give them the support they need,” Gainey said.
Revelstoke and Kamloops have squared off once this season, with the visiting Grizzlies posting a 4-0 victory on Sept. 22 at Memorial.
“If we can match their intensity and move pucks under pressure, we can have a good game against them,” Gainey said.