Sports

Clippers raising their game

Nanaimo Clippers forward Luke Sandler, middle, is checked by Victoria Grizzlies opponent Travis Stephens during Friday night’s B.C. Hockey League game at Frank Crane Arena. The home team won 4-2. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo Clippers forward Luke Sandler, middle, is checked by Victoria Grizzlies opponent Travis Stephens during Friday night’s B.C. Hockey League game at Frank Crane Arena. The home team won 4-2.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The Nanaimo Clippers’ cycle game is working right now. The Clips are winning games, which is building their confidence, which is in turn helping them play well and win more games.

Nanaimo’s B.C. Hockey League team defeated the Victoria Grizzlies by a 4-2 score on Friday night at Frank Crane Arena in the only action of the weekend for the Clippers.

“Our confidence level has grown and it helps us come out even stronger and be more excited for games like this,” said Devin Brosseau, one of the team’s alternate captains.

The Clippers had good energy in the first period, and undaunted by penalty trouble, they scored twice in the opening frame. Brosseau had both goals, first cashing in a rebound of a Scott Prier point shot and then wristing one in on a two-on-one break late in the period.

Brendan Taylor scored on a rebound on a second-period power play to make it 3-0, but the Grizz got one back on a Jaden Schmeisser wrister in the final minute of the period.

Vic closed within a goal early in the third period but Nanaimo didn’t seem to panic.

“We worked hard all game and we applied a lot of forecheck and we tried to stick with it defensively and keep things simple and I think it worked out,” Brosseau said.

Taylor scored an empty-net goal to ice the win and Jayson Argue made 39 saves.

Both of Victoria’s goals were scored on delayed penalties, but Nanaimo was a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. Coach Mike Vandekamp said that was a difference maker in the game, and said Argue was a major part of the PK’s success.

“We did have a plan of what we thought they were going to be doing with the power play and how we could defend it and we executed that pretty well,” the coach said.

His team was penalized more than he would have liked.

“If there’s a physical penalty taken, we can live with that, but we’ve obviously got to work on avoiding the other ones,” he said.

But if the Clippers were overly enthusiastic at times, well, it might be because they’re pretty excited about this final stretch of the season.

“It’s important to step up your game when playoffs are coming and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Brosseau said. “We’re building ourselves an identity for the playoffs and our confidence level has grown tremendously and I think it shows on the ice.”

GAME ON … To see another photo from Friday's game, please click here … The Clippers visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Wednesday (Feb. 5) and then host the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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