Russell Sanderson

“Anything I can do to get these kids to the next level, I’m going to do it. Being older now, I get to look back (at my career), share those experiences in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes. The most important thing for them is that they have to have fun. There’s way too much pressure to play at that next level but if you’re working hard and having fun, success will come.”

- Russell Sanderson, Storm Assistant Coach

There are two things that strike me about that quote. Firstly Russell, at just 22 years old, refers to the players as kids. However that speaks to his experience in Junior and College hockey. ‘Sandy’ has played Major Midget, Junior B (VIJHL in Campbell River and KIJHL in Chase), Junior A with Merritt (two seasons) and college hockey in Canada and the US. He’s packed in a lot experience in a short period of time. The other thing that strikes me is that Russell understands all too well the pressure that the players are under and recognizes that this is potentially an incredible time in their lives that should be enjoyed.

Russell played his minor hockey in Squamish and Merritt. “In my first year in Midget, we won the provincials, it was the first time Merritt had done it in twenty-something years and it was pretty special for the town; they made a big deal about it.” After a year in BC Major Midget, he returned to his hometown and played with the BCHL Centennials, “It was a little different for me, playing in my hometown. There was so much pressure being a goaltender in your hometown. Merritt, being a small town where everyone knows everyone, it was an interesting experience but I learned so much.” Late in the 2013/14 season he arrived in Campbell River and made an instant impact. In the playoffs, Russell had a 1.63 GAA and a .941 save percentage but the team wasn’t quite ready yet and bowed out to the Cougars in the semifinals (different format then). In the offseason that year, he underwent hip surgery that ended his Junior hockey playing career. He still remained a part of the team though, “I can’t thank Lee enough for the opportunity to remain part of the team. I was in a tough place but he brought me around, helped me into the coaching side as the video coach. All my friends were on that team (that went all the way) and they included me, I felt like such a huge part of it.” From there Russell moved onto the University of Central Oklahoma and Selkirk College. (We’ll touch on that in a future article). “I’ve always wanted to be a coach, I’ve had that passion. Lee’s given me an opportunity here so I’m excited to run with it.”

Assistant Coach