The Kamloops Storm may just be Kamloops’ best kept secret. In a town that is absolutely sports crazy, the Storm, who plays in the third tier of junior hockey (Junior B) in B.C., is often overshadowed by bigger events like Blazers or Broncos games. But if they keep playing the way they are now, the people of Kamloops are going to have no choice but to stand up and take notice.
Playing in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) the team is comprised of players 16 to 20 years old, with many growing up and learning the game right here in Kamloops. The league is a unique mixture of teams from bigger areas along with teams from smaller towns where the Junior B team is the main attraction. From Chase and Fernie to Kelowna and Nelson, almost every town in the interior of British Columbia is represented in the league.
Kamloops currently sits in first place of the Doug Birks division of the Okanagan/Shuswap conference with an impressive record of 20 wins, 8 losses and 3 overtime losses. Having won both their division and conference last season, the Storm came up just a little bit short, losing the league championship in six games to the Kimberley Dynamiters.
Even though the Storm has jumped out to such an impressive start to the season, they still find themselves in a close battle for first place in their division with the 100 Mile House Wranglers just one point behind them.
Those same Wranglers were in town Sunday night, and the battle of the top two teams in their division did not disappoint. While the Wranglers were able to eke out a 4–3 overtime win, the Storm will be buoyed by the fact that they were able to fight back from being down multiple goals early on in the game, including a goal from the Wranglers that found its way into the net just 45 seconds into the contest.
Every team in the KIJHL struggles with a high turnover in roster from year to year due to the age limit as well as the high amount of hockey playing opportunities that exist elsewhere for the players. This makes the fact that head coach Ed Patterson has this team fighting for back-to-back division titles, despite only one of their top five leading scorers from last year seeing significant playing time this year, all the more impressive.
With just two weekends left to play before heading into the Christmas break, the Storm has reached the midway point of their season, and so far all signs seem to be positive for the team. Defending a title is never easy, but if the Storm can play as well in the second half of the season as they have in the first, then not only should they be in line for another division championship, but also some much deserved recognition from the Kamloops sporting community.
The Storm’s next home game is on Sunday, Dec. 13, at McArthur Island Park arena, when the Revelstoke Grizzlies come to town.