Clippers lacking concentration

Nanaimo Clippers forward Leo Fitzgerald tries to carve a path between two Trail Smoke Eaters opponents during Sunday's B.C. Hockey League game at Frank Crane Arena. The Clips were defeated 5-3.

Every so often, the Nanaimo Clippers find themselves watching, instead of doing. And it keeps proving costly.

The city’s B.C. Hockey League team lost again Sunday afternoon at Frank Crane Arena, this time 5-3 to the Trail Smoke Eaters.

In the matinee, the Clips played a good first period and found themselves up 1-0 on another point shot from rookie defenceman Sam Labrecque.

But the Clips didn’t bring much to the second period.

“We got a little passive. We just didn’t have the energy; we weren’t in their face,” said Victor Newell, veteran defenceman.

Trail scored two goals in the second, then two more in the third to take a 4-1 lead. Leo Fitzgerald scored twice in a five-minute span to make things interesting, but the Smokies got some insurance with a power-play goal with five minutes left.

Final shots were 46-28 in favour of Nanaimo. Charles-Alexy Premont suffered the loss in his first start of the season, while Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association product Matt Larose earned the ‘W’ for the Smoke Eaters.

“In the second period we started moving our feet,” Larose said. “We got it out of the zone, kept it simple and then we got chances off of that.”

Smoke Eaters player Sam Mellor scored a hat trick. Opposing team’s top lines continue to do damage, while Nanaimo’s veteran forwards haven’t created enough offence this season.

Clippers coach Bill Bestwick said it comes down to concentration.

“Finding loose pucks, competing harder on loose pucks and not taking the easy way out,” he said.

Injuries hurting Nanaimo’s chances

If the Nanaimo Clippers are losing focus at times this season, part of that might be immaturity, said the coach.

“We’re missing some veteran players that have a calming influence, that settle things down, that would be getting key minutes,” said Bestwick. “Maybe we’re just a little bit shy on veteran leadership in crunch times.”

Team captain Colton Cyr has yet to make his season debut and top-six forward Kyle Kramer and veteran defencemen Todd Gebert and Tyler Mah are among the other injured Clippers.

None are expected to play Wednesday (Sept. 29) but Kramer may be able to get back in the lineup for Friday’s home game against the Powell River Kings.

GAME ON … The Clippers host the Victoria Grizzlies this Wednesday (Sept. 29) at 7:10 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena … Representatives from 1-800-GOT-JUNK? will be at the game collecting non-perishable food items for the Loaves and Fishes food bank. Everyone who contributes will be entered into a draw to win dinner for two at the Firehouse Grill.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com