Sports

Clippers need a fast start to new year

BCHL teams have no alternative but to be ready to go as hockey resumes. There’s a trade deadline looming and playoff races that are intensifying.

The Nanaimo Clippers are about to begin a three-game homestand, and players said this week they intended to step back on home ice a better team after the holiday break.

“Whenever you can get some rest it really helps you get rejuvenated and come back ready to go to work in the second half,” said Matt Creamer, Clippers forward.

They’ll try to pick up important points on home ice this week. Nanaimo hosts the Victoria Grizzlies on Wednesday (Jan. 4) and plays twice more at home in the next few days, taking on the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Jan. 6) and the Prince George Spruce Kings on Sunday.

Sean Buchanan, Clippers defenceman, said this week’s home games are huge.

“I think every game from now on till the playoffs is the biggest game of the season,” he said.

That’s because the Clippers have some work to do in the Island Division. They hold down the fourth and final playoff position and are eight points back of the third-place Capitals and five points up on the last-place Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Creamer said players are trying to focus more on the games in front of them rather than the standings.

“Obviously whenever you play a division team it’s big, because if you win, you take points away from them,” he said. “[But] you don’t really watch the standings at all, you just play your game and take it one game at a time and go from there.”

Buchanan said players don’t mean to look at the standings, but can’t help it sometimes.

“Especially this year, with the playoff race in the division, it seems to be pretty tight, so we look a little bit more than usual, I guess,” he said.

The Clippers are looking forward to playing at Frank Crane Arena for the first time in three and a half weeks.

“It’s going to be fun to get back in our building and to get a couple wins under our belt would be nice,” Creamer said.

GAME ON … The Clippers and Grizz play tonight (Jan. 4) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The Clips and Caps play Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Sunday’s matchup against the Spruce Kings is a 2 p.m. faceoff at Frank Crane.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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