Since the late nineties, when these two teams joined the VIJHL, the Campbell River Storm and the Victoria Cougars have taken turns dominating. In recent years though, they have been evenly matched and on Thursday night, in Esquimalt, they demonstrated why.

The Storm survived a late surge from the Cougars and took game one of the league final best of seven series 4-3.

Ben Raffler opened the scoring late in the first when he crashed the net and put a rebound past Cougar’s netminder Anthony Ciurro.

In the second, Reid Wheeldon scored his second of the playoffs for a 2-0 lead. Despite trailing, the Cougars started to come on and by period’s end tied the contest at two.

Early in the third, Mitchell Williams scored his sixth goal in six games since returning from injury. It was a great individual effort as he stole the puck in the O-zone circle, did a quick spin-a-rama and fired a shot, as he was falling down, that surprised Ciurro. Williams watched the goal flat on his belly.

Dylan McCann would get the eventual winner at 12:36 of the third frame, responding to a goal mouth scramble.

The Cougars got one back late in the game to draw within one and pressed the Storm for the final 2 minutes.

The Victoria goal scorers were Dom Kolbeins and Jordan Passmore, who had a pair.

Williams was first star, while the second star honours when to Max Daerendinger, who had another strong playoff outing.

Game two is set for tonight (Friday) at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. 

- submitted by Mark Berry

Friday, March 24, 2017