The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s (KIJHL’s) Kamloops Storm were in town over the weekend for their regular-season games against the Osoyoos Coyotes, but that’s not all they got up to.
After a late arrival when their bus broke down near 100 Mile House, the team rolled into town on Thursday Dec. 7 and guided the Parallel Skills Group, which consists of young Quesnel hockey players, through some skill-building exercises at West Fraser Centre.
The players, who are part of Quesnel Minor Hockey’s Under Atom, Atom and Pee Wee divisions, took a knee as Storm head coach Ed Patterson explained the line up for the afternoon, and then joined their Kamloops Storm leaders to do skating, stick handling and shooting drills.
Next up for the KIJHL team was a meet and greet at St. Ann’s Catholic School, where the team fielded questions from grades 4-7 students.
Students were keen to find out which player had made the most slapshots, how many hours they train in a day, how many games they had won so far this season, and even whether any of the players are vegetarians.
The players graciously answered the students’ queries and also spoke to the children about teamwork, what they sacrifice to play hockey, the importance of sportsmanship and how they manage their time between hockey, school work and extra curricular activities.
Two of the Storm’s Quesnel players, Yewta Plamondon and Chris Thon, are St. Ann’s School alumni, and they greeted some of their former teachers after the Q&A with warmth.
Once all the students’ burning questions had been answered, each child received a ticket to the Storm’s weekend games, and the students and players broke off into teams for a friendly floor hockey scrimmage in the gym.
And on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 9), the Junior B team met Quesnel’s Special Olympics floor hockey team at Riverview Elementary for more fun and friendly games. It was a good set up for the Olympians, who were headed to Prince George the next day for a practice and scrimmage with the PG Special Olympics floor hockey team.
Aside from their community engagements, the Storm played at West Fraser Centre Friday and Saturday nights against the Osoyoos Coyotes to crowds of 680 on Friday and 532 on Saturday.
The Kamloops team lost both games after putting up a good fight.
Friday’s game saw Osoyoos beat Kamloops 3-1, and Saturday the Okanagan team won 6-2.
Both nights saw the Coyotes come out strong in the first period; on Friday they scored twice in the first period and on Saturday three times. Kamloops wasn’t able to return from the early lead, despite a good effort.
The Coyotes are a tough team to beat, with most of their players age 19 and 20, compared with the Storm’s team, which is made up of mainly rookie players.
The Coyotes currently sit second in the standings for the Okanagan/Shuswap conference: Okanagan division. The Storm sit in fourth in the Okanagan/Shuswap conference: Doug Birks Division.
The Storm will return to Quesnel Feb. 9-10 for their final games at West Fraser Centre, against the 100 Mile House Wranglers and the Kelowna Chiefs.
Watch our slideshows of all the Storm’s events in Quesnel Dec. 7-9.