Though he's not in the Western Hockey League this season, Cody Savey is enjoying playing at the Junior B level with the Campbell River Storm. A cheering section of 10-15 fans comes to watch each of his home games. (Campbell River Storm photo)
Cody Savey is certainly more upbeat these days.
A year ago Savey, a member of the Mowachact/Muchalaht First Nation, was toiling with the Seattle Thunderbirds, who compete in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
The WHL is a Major Junior circuit, one of three loops that make up the Canadian Hockey League, the highest level of junior hockey available in Canada. But Savey had a frustrating 2018-19 campaign as he was often a healthy scratch and only appeared in 18 of the Thunderbirds’ 68 regular season outings. He had just one assist in those games.
Afterwards Savey requested a trade out of Seattle and was told the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades were interested in his services.
“I just decided I didn’t want to go (to Saskatoon),” Savey said. “I wanted to be close to home.”
After he was released by the Thunderbirds, Savey was then hoping to play the 2019-20 campaign with the Nanaimo Clippers, a Junior A squad that competes in the British Columbia Hockey League.
He appeared in a handful of exhibition matches with the Clippers, and then Savey said the Clippers’ brass told him he was being assigned to the Campbell River Storm for five games. The Storm, a Junior B team, play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL).
Savey, who was originally anticipating to be recalled by the Clippers after his early-season assignment with Campbell River, said he hasn’t had any contact with Nanaimo officials since the pre-season. But he’s not complaining as he is relishing his time in Campbell River.
Though the league he’s currently in is a few steps below the WHL, Savey, 18, appears rather happy.
“It is definitely a big difference compared to last year,” he said. “But I like the playing time I’m getting now and I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
Savey was signed with the Thunderbirds as a 15-year-old and played two WHL games late during the 2016-17 season. He also played one game with Seattle the following year, a season he primarily played with Campbell River.
Savey, a 6-foot, 204-pound centre, is currently the middle of Campbell River’s top line. He earned 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists) in his first 27 contests with the Storm.
Campbell River head coach Lee Stone said Savey has been rather positive since joining the Storm.
“Quite honestly from the minute he showed up he’s really enjoyed being here,” Stone said. “Coming here he knew he would be getting an opportunity to play.”
Stone said Savey has his own cheering section for certain home games.
“On any given Friday night he’ll have 10-15 family members and friends sitting in the one corner,” said Stone, who is in his seventh season as the Storm head coach and general manager.
Stone said he feels Savey is more beneficial to the club now that he’s playing centre, instead of right wing, a position he played the last several seasons. Stone converted him to centre when he arrived in Campbell River this year.
“It allows him to stay more fluid and keep moving,” Stone said.
Though he went through an adjustment period, Savey said he does like the fact he’s now a centre.
“It was weird at first,” he said. “But I like it more now because I can use my offensive abilities more.”
Savey also has to be pleased about the fact Campbell River is one of the VIJHL’s top squads this season. The Storm posted a 23-10-2 mark in its first 35 games and with 48 points was atop the standings in the league’s four-club North Division.
Campbell River, however, was behind two teams in the league’s five-team South Division in the over-all VIJHL standings. The 29-5-1 Victoria Cougars and 28-9-0 Peninsula Panthers, based in North Saanich, had 59 and 56 points, respectively.
“We’re a really young team but we have a lot of skill,” Savey said of the Campbell River side.
Savey also believes the Storm is one of the squads capable of winning the VIJHL championship this season.
“It’s just going to depend on who’s playing the best in the playoffs,” he said.
Savey has two years of junior eligibility remaining after this season. He’s hoping to return to a higher level of play next season and is confident he can crack the roster of a BCHL franchise.
And he hasn’t given up hope of making a return to the WHL. He said he would even accept an offer to join an organization that is not in his home province.
“If I get the opportunity then I would go,” he said.
Savey is also hoping to eventually play in the Canadian university ranks after he has used up his junior hockey eligibility. He completed his high school studies this past June when he returned to his hometown of Gold River, after the Thunderbirds completed their season.
Meanwhile, Savey and his Campbell River teammates return to action this Friday with a home contest against the Mill Bay-based Kerry Park Islanders. The Storm will then host the Saanich Braves on Saturday night.