Bombs away

Nanaimo Clippers defenceman Sam Labrecque looks to pass the puck in the offensive zone during a game earlier this season at Frank Crane Arena. Labrecque leads Nanaimo in goals this season.

Opponents are lucky, in a way – they only need to duck Sam Labrecque’s point shots a few times this season.

His Nanaimo Clippers teammates are in the line of fire every time they crowd the net to screen a goalie. It can be a little scary.

“Oh yeah, especially in practice, when we do drills from the point,” said Mike Domsodi, Clippers forward. “But you’ve got to pay the price.”

In truth, the Shipmen are glad to have Labrecque on their side – the 18-year-old from Granby, Que. has a team-leading four goals over the first six games. The key to his offence is a powerful slapshot.

“I’m just trying to put the puck at the net from the blueline,” Labrecque said. “When I get a chance, just throw the puck on net. It seems to be working right now.”

Domsodi said especially on the power play, the Clippers are trying to feed Labrecque the puck as much as possible.

“We know he’s going to rip that cannon on net,” Domsodi said. “And hopefully we can get a rebound or bounce it in off my head or something.”

There’s more to Labrecque than just his bombs from the point. Coach Bill Bestwick said the rookie has been the team’s best player this fall.

“He understands the game real well, he checks real well, he gets his stick in good places,” said the coach. “Even with one hand on his stick he’s strong.”

Labrecque’s two-way prowess means he can play in all situations. It’s adding up to a lot of minutes, especially with a spate of injuries to the Clippers’ blueline corps.

“I take the ice a lot, but that’s good for my confidence,” Labrecque said. “We’re always trading partners but I like the fact that I’m jumping onto the ice.”

GAME ON … The Clippers play the Alberni Valley Bulldogs tonight (Oct. 2) at 7 p.m. at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena … The next home game for the Clips is Friday (Oct. 8) when the Prince George Spruce Kings come to Frank Crane Arena for a 7:10 p.m. faceoff.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com