There may not be many familiar faces when the Campbell River Storm take to the ice this fall, but nine-year head coach and general manager Lee Stone will still be behind the bench willing the team to victory.
He noted the off-season has been good for the Junior B club.
“Last year was a really, really challenging year. So it’s been nice just to have camps and normal recruiting again,” Stone said.
The first camp for the club starts on August 27, and fans can expect a new captain to be named beforehand.
Stone had plenty of praise for outgoing leader, Kyle Jennings.
“I think he did an incredible job and we had a really special group that would have done some pretty incredible things last year if they had the opportunity,” the coach said.
“I have to give him credit as well as all the leaders for keeping focused and motivated even though we really didn’t know what was coming next.
“We’ll definitely miss him.”
Only a handful of players remain from the squad fans would have seen compete two years ago, but Stone remains optimistic the new blood will win over the Storm audience quickly.
“It should be a fun, exciting group, he said. “I’m sure it won’t take long for fans to figure out their new favourites for sure.”
The new team will trend younger this year, which Stone described as beneficial.
“Sometimes having a younger group there’s a little bit more motivation,” he explained. “There’s still that desire to make that jump to play at the Junior A level.”
Speed and depth are also strengths Stone is pleased about.
“We’re all about pace,” he said. “Fans that have seen us play in the past will know… we’re definitely high octane. We like to transition pucks up ice as quickly as we can.”
It will be even more difficult to predict what the results of the upcoming season will be thanks to a uniquely late start to the BCHL.
The Junior A league will see squads making cuts in late September, so many Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League teams will have an influx of talented youngsters to add to their rosters.
The objective will remain the same for Stone and the Storm.
“Our goal is to win a championship, and be in Delta at the end of the year in the Provincials,” he said. “It’s something our fans have gotten used to a little bit, so hopefully we can provide that same type of entertainment and a long playoff run for them.”
A season ticket drive will take place on Friday, Aug. 27. Stone says the club has already sold 70 per cent of the seats, so fans would do well to snatch the rest up while they still can.
To inquire about tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org