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Storm rolls to VIJHL playoff final

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Making it to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) playoff final never gets old for the Campbell River Storm.

The defending VIJHL champion Storm punched their ticket to the final series with a 4-1 win over the Saanich Braves on Wednesday at George Pearkes Arena in Saanich.

The victory completed a four-game sweep of the Braves in the best-of-seven, VIJHL semifinal series.

Storm head coach Mike Wilson said that even though it was a sweep, it was a very tough series.

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“Every game was a close game and they gave us everything we could handle even though it was a four-game series,” Wilson said. “They’re a well-coached team that works hard, but our team was just full value for sticking to the game plan and real proud of our guys for the way they came out and competed.”

On Wednesday, the Storm scored the final three goals of the night to earn the victory.

Tyler Chyzowski, Darren Hards, Damon Porter, and Noah Fladager (into an empty net) scored for the Storm, who had a 43-40 edge in shots.

The road to the final had some potholes early on. The Storm had to dig themselves out of a 3-1 series hole in the opening round against the Peninsula Panthers.

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With each game being of the must-win variety, the Storm reeled off three straight victories to win the series.

“This time of the year, you’ve really got to take it one game at a time and I think that’s what our guys have been doing,” Wilson said. “Even more so than that, it’s one shift a time really. Our guys really embraced the job that they have to do and go out and do it every shift. The way they have responded to being down in the first series and coming back, and winning four straight in the second series… I’m proud of the boys.”

Win or lose in the final, the season will continue for both the Storm and their opponent in the final. Campbell River will face the winner of the Nanaimo Buccaneers/Victoria Cougars semifinal.

The Buccaneers take a 3-2 series lead into game six tonight in Victoria.

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That’s because the Storm are hosting the Cyclone Taylor Cup next month.

And as the hosts of the provincial junior B championship, they get automatic entry into a tournament that features the winners of the Kootenay International Hockey League, Pacific Junior Hockey League, VIJHL, and the host team.

“Whoever we play in the final makes it to Cyclone,” Wilson said.

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