The Kamloops Storm has only made one first-round playoff exit since moving to town from Osoyoos, and it will be looking to avoid a second over the next few days.
The Storm is to open the KIJHL playoffs Friday night against the North Okanagan Knights in Armstrong. Game 2 will be played Saturday, with Games 3 and 4 in Kamloops on Monday and Tuesday.
The Storm has a tough first-round matchup.
The Knights went 34-14-2-2 and finished first in the Doug Birks Division. They were 30 points ahead of Kamloops, which went 18-28-2-4 and took fourth in the five-team division.
The Knights won six of the eight games between the two teams during the regular season — two of those victories were in double-overtime. Kamloops won one meeting in double-overtime and another in regulation.
Despite a division-heavy schedule, the last time the Knights and Storm met was way back on Jan. 5, when the Knights came into town and earned a 3-2 victory.
The Storm has made the playoffs each season since moving to Kamloops before 2006-07. The only time the Storm didn’t advance past the opening round was in 2010, when the Chase Chiefs — who have since relocated to Kelowna — won a best-of-five series in four games. Kamloops played host to the Keystone Cup Western Canadian championship that year, finishing third.
This will be the second playoff matchup between the Knights and Storm. In Round 1 in 2012, the second-place Storm needed seven games to dispatch the third-place Knights.
In Game 7 at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, the Storm won, 3-1. Kamloops went on to lose to the Sicamous Eagles in seven games in the second round.
After advancing to the league semifinal in 2007 and the league final in 2008 and 2009, the Storm hasn’t advanced past the second round since.
Games 3 and 4 will begin at 7 p.m., at the Sport Centre. Game 5, if needed, will be in Armstrong on Thursday, with a possible Game 6 to be played at the Sport Centre on March 1.