Sports

Playoff hockey comes to Nanaimo's home ice

The Nanaimo Clippers come home for a pair of critical playoff hockey games this weekend.

The city's B.C. Hockey League club trails its first-round best-of-seven series with the Powell River Kings two games to none after a 3-1 loss Wednesday on the road.

The Clips had to play from behind all night after giving up a goal just one minute into the first period. Then they had an unfocused stretch in the second period, said coach Mike Vandekamp, in which they got behind 2-0, then 3-0.

"We fought and clawed our way along pretty good after that," the coach said.

But Luke Sandler's goal with five minutes left in the third was the only puck the Clippers could get past Kings goalie Jeff Smith, the game's first star.

"I don't think we're doing a great job of getting to the net yet with consistency throughout the lineup," Vandekamp said.

The Clips could use some goal scoring, said the coach, but he's been happy with the effort through the first two playoff games. Trailing two games to none is a hole, but the series is a long way from being over.

"The games have been awfully close," said Vandekamp. "We'll build on some of the things that went well in the first two games, make some adjustments and hopefully get better quickly enough to win a game on Friday … That's really the only way you can look at it right now is just one game at a time."

It helps that the series moves to Frank Crane Arena, where the Clippers have seen good crowds over the stretch run of the season.

"We have definitely created a real energy and a buzz in our building over the past few weeks," the coach said. "We definitely look forward to feeding off of that extra energy and the atmosphere in the rink and the support from our local fans."

GAME ON … The Clippers and Kings play Game 3 on Friday (March 7) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Game 4 is Saturday, another 7 p.m. start at Frank Crane.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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