Clippers hold grand opening

Nanaimo Clippers alternate captains Nick Bell

Call it Extreme Makeover: Nanaimo edition.

When the Nanaimo Clippers hold their home opener this Friday (Sept. 17) against the Surrey Eagles, they’ll be dropping the puck at a brand-new-but-same-old Frank Crane Arena.

The rink has never looked so good. A fresh coat of paint has done wonders, and fans will notice plenty of other renovations.

“They’re going to be appreciative of all of the work that’s gone in over the summer,” said Bill Bestwick, Clippers coach. “The seating and the esthetics and the new glass and the boards … and obviously the elevator.”

To complement the elevator, two new wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms have been built.

The arena’s box office has been rebuilt, the last few benches have been replaced with individual seats and the advertising signs throughout the building have a more uniform look.

The renovations are getting great reviews.

“It’s awesome,” said Nick Bell, Clippers alternate captain. “It looks a lot more professional, a lot more modern. It should be a better atmosphere this year.”

The ice surface was a little rough on Monday, but a few more passes by the Zamboni should take care of that this week.

With people curious to see the arena upgrades and fans hoping to see roster upgrades, there should be a big crowd Friday. So there will be plenty of motivation for the Shipmen to come out with a win.

“There’s a lot of excitement in the room, a lot of excitement around town I think,” said Bell. “There’s going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. If we can control it and use it in the right way, we’ll be successful.”

Dominic Savoie, another alternate captain and a major junior veteran, has played in front of lots of big crowds. He won’t be nervous, he said, and hopes his teammates won’t be, either.

“They shouldn’t be nervous about playing that home opening game,” he said. “It’s a game [just like] they’ve played before, it’s the same.”

The same, except different – just like the arena itself.

“There’s going to be a lot of excitement coming out there,” said Andrew Gladiuk, also an alternate captain. “We’ve just got to keep our emotions in check. We’ve got to settle each other down if we’re getting too high and focus on the task at hand and get a win.”

GAME ON … The Nanaimo Clippers (1-0) and the Surrey Eagles (1-1) face off at 7:10 p.m. Friday (Sept. 17) at Frank Crane Arena … Tickets will be available at the door at a cost of $14.50 for adults, $13 for seniors and students and $9 for children 6-12. For season ticket information, visit www.nanaimoclippers.com … On Saturday night the Shipmen head over the hump to take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (0-1) in a 7 p.m. start at Weyerhaeuser Arena … Game recaps will be posted online at Clippers Central at www.nanaimobulletin.com over the weekend.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com