KIJHL team preview: Kamloops Storm

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League 2021-22 season begins Oct. 1. Leading into the season we are providing previews on each of the teams.

Next up are the Kamloops Storm in the Doug Birks Division. The Storm hired Geoff Grimwood as their new head coach, taking over from Steve Gainey, who remains involved with the club. Grimwood brings experience from the BCHL and WHL.

Key Returnees: F- Jameson Rende, Kasey Jackson, D- Samuel Lewis.

Rende, 18, is in his third season with the Storm. In 2019-20, Rende had eight points to go with 101 penalty minutes. Rende played two games last season, but was held pointless. Jackson, 19, also played two games last season. In 2019-20, he split it between Osoyoos and Grand Forks, collecting three assists in 26 games. He started his career with the Chase Heat, as a 17-year-old where he had nine points in 39 games. Lewis, 18, was a rookie last season, seeing action in two games.

“They are veteran guys that have a lot of leadership, have a lot of character and have really helped me transition into the new role here,” says Grimwood. “Those are guys we will rely a lot on the ice and in the dressing room.”

Rookie to Watch:  F- Kyle Sanford. G-Johnathan Hicks (currently at Kamloops Blazers WHL camp).

Sanford- Delta Hockey Academy- “He has shown a lot of potential. He’s got really good size, is a good skater and has a good skill set,” says Grimwood of the hometown product. “He can play a power-forward style. I think that’s a guy that even at 17-years-old, has got the ability to be an impact player right away.

Hicks- Delta Hockey Academy U17 – “He’s a guy at 16, has a lot of upside,” says of the Kamloops goalie. “We’re definitely really comfortable with him between the pipes.”

Season outlook: “I have really been impressed with just how open minded and how willing to learn the guys are. Being together now for about a week, in that week we got a lot accomplished through our practices. I really like the attitude and the work ethic and their willingness to buy into what we’re trying to build here. It’s been really good.

Coach’s quote: “We are trying to establish that identity and team game. We want to make sure when October turns around, we’re ready as a team,” says Grimwood. “I’m excited for a chance to compete again and have always liked the journey of where you are in September versus where you are by Christmas or January. Seeing how the players improve and how you come together as a team. That is the biggest thing I am looking forward to.”