COURTENAY, B.C. – Little victories: It’s what you look for when your junior B hockey team starts off its season at 0-6.
Comox Valley Glacier Kings head coach Jordan Kamprath took a couple of moral victories from Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the visiting Campbell River Storm at the Comox Valley Sports Centre.
“I think we played awesome,” Kamprath said. “I think we played a good, solid 60 minutes.”
For one, the Glacier Kings took a 2-1 lead into the third period, the first time they’ve accomplished such a feat this season.
And they scored a pair of power play goals for a 40 percent success rate.
But in the third period, the Glacier Kings weren’t able to weather the storm.
The visitors three unanswered goals, including markers 20 seconds apart just near the midway point of the frame, to move ahead 4-2.
The Storm’s tying and go-ahead goals both came with the visitors enjoying a man advantage.
“There were a couple of questionable calls by the referees,” Kamprath said. “The go-ahead goal was actually on an off-side which I thought was pretty blatant, but the calls are what the calls are on the ice, and you just have to battle through them, and battle through the adversity. It’s going to be like that all year for every team.”
The Kings’ Jerzy Gus scored on a power play with 5:51 to go in regulation but that was as close as Comox Valley would get, as the Storm’s Damon Porter tallied his second of the period into the empty net with under 30 seconds remaining to cap the night’s scoring.
Comox Valley netminder Matthias Smith was brilliant, stopping 55 of 59 shots.
The Storm outshot the Glacier Kings 60-18, including 23-5 in the third period.
“He played absolutely unreal,” Kamprath said, of Smith.
Kamprath said the one constant this year has been solid work between the pipes from Smith and Braedyn Funke.
“The two of them are going to be battling for a starting position and both of them have the qualities to move up to the next level,” Kamprath said.
“They both have that perfect team mentality where they support one another, whether they’re playing or they’re backup to the other one. They give each other taps on the pads and say ‘good job’ to one another. There’s no bad blood between the two of them, it doesn’t matter which one starts.”
With only a handful of players with junior hockey experience, the key is to keep the players upbeat during what’s been a very trying start to the season, after a campaign in which the team won just four times.
“It’s a work in progress, there’s going to be growing pains going forward and I’ve seen a very steep, upward climb of team play and how are games are going,” Kamprath said. “I think very quickly, as soon as we get a win under our belts and start putting the puck in the back of the net… as the season’s going on we’re going to improve more and more and more and our learning curve’s going to be a lot greater, too.”
The Glacier Kings occupy the cellar of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s North Division and will look for their first win of the season on Wednesday when they travel to Victoria’s Q Centre to take on the Westshore Wolves.