VIJHL Playoff Summary – March 10
Campbell River 3 Peninsula 0
Aaron de Kok, on the strength of a 23 save performance, backstopped the Campbell River Storm to a 3-0 victory over the Peninsula Panthers.
Two nervous teams hit the ice Sunday night at the Brindy and although the two teams eventually settled in and wrestled momentum from each other and played solid structured hockey. There were occasional mistakes and the Storm capitalized on their opportunities.
At 12:23 of the first, Jackson Dyke, pinching in from the point, walked in from the corner, picked up a rebound, reached around the goaltender and swept the puck in for the opening goal and the winner. It was the rookie’s first goal in the playoffs.
There was no scoring in the second.
Darren Hards’ insurance marker at 14:15 of the third stunned the crowd and is worth a good look. A dangle here, a toe drag there, with a shimmy thrown in for good measure and he skated through the right side of the Panthers defence and put the puck past Connor McKillop.
With a minute thirty-five left and shorthanded, Campbell River’s Noah Fladager stole the puck in the Peninsula and went straight to the net where he buried the puck just under the crossbar.
Despite losing in a heartbreaker, the Panthers announced to the league that they will be a force with so many players returning next season.
Connor McKillop was incredible through the series with a 2.00 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
In the final three games of the series, Aaron de Kok was the best player on the ice (1.62 GAA and .958 SV) making numerous series saving stops.
The Storm will face the Saanich Braves in one VIJHL Semifinal matchup while the Cougars and Buccaneers will face off in the other.
The VIJHL would like to acknowledge the Panthers’ lone 20, Braeden Hansen who now graduates from junior hockey.