Clips prepare to bounce back

The Nanaimo Clippers will take a depleted roster on the road for a short swing through the Interior this weekend, hoping to recover from a dismal home stand where they were outscored 9-2 in two games.

The Clips travel to Prince George for a Friday (Feb. 1) tilt against the Cougars, followed by a rematch against the Merritt Centennials Saturday. The Cents sunk the Clippers 5-2 at Frank Crane Arena last weekend.

Nanaimo will be without three of its top six forwards as injuries to Michael McNicholas, Brenden Forbes, Aaron Hadley persist. Defenceman Colton Dahlen and forward Greg Fraser are listed as day-to-day.

“We’ve got guys who weren’t playing that much playing a lot more, which is great for them, but at the same time it will take a little bit of time where they can step in and start to contribute, too,” said Mike Vandekamp, head coach and GM of the Clippers, on Monday. “It’s going to take us another month to nip away at this problem and get these key guys back. And hopefully in the meantime we don’t get some more guys taken out of the lineup, that this run of injuries is over.”

The road trip kicks off a tough month for the Clippers, who currently sit in second place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division with 48 points – 15 points behind the division-leading Victoria Grizzlies.

Nanaimo is scheduled to play seven of its nine games in February on the road as the playoffs approach. The team will host Island rivals Cowichan on Feb. 8 before playing four straight games on the road between Feb. 9-17.

“It’s not too bad, it’s really status quo,” said Michael Olson, assistant coach of the Clippers. “We’ve got to play on the road and we play at home like every other team. It all comes down to just playing and winning games.”

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