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Split hurts Clippers’ playoff hopes

With the Nanaimo junior A Clippers’ chances of making the playoffs bound by the most breakable of threads, a split in weekend games all but doused the small flicker of hope the team had left.

The sinking Clippers fell 6-3 against the Surrey Eagles Friday (Feb. 24) in Surrey before edging the Victoria Grizzlies 2-1 in the provincial capital Saturday.

Nanaimo (24-21-0-9) is chasing the Coquitlam Express (32-18-2-2) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the BCHL’s Coastal Conference, but with the Express 11 points up with just six games left in the regular season for each team, Nanaimo’s chances have been reduced to slim and none.

Nanaimo is 3-5-0-2 in its last 10 games.

Against Victoria (20-34-1-0), Clayton Chessa scored unassisted and shorthanded to give the Clips a 1-0 lead at 15:43 of the first period. Midway through the second frame, Jesse Neher put Nanaimo up 2-0.

Victoria’s only response came 46 seconds into the third period with a power play goal by Cam Lawson.

Nanaimo goalie Christopher Eiserman earned the win in net.

In Surrey, the Clippers managed to stay afloat in the first period, but took on water in the second as Surrey pumped in two unanswered goals to make it 4-2.

Andrew Gladiuk scored for Nanaimo in the first period with Brendan Forbes giving his team some life at 19:44 of the second.

Chessa breathed some life back into the Clips at the 1:55 mark of the third, scoring unassisted to bring his team to within one.

Nanaimo’s last six games are hardly guaranteed victories. The Clippers face Surrey, who beat the Clips three times in February, twice more as well as Island rival Alberni Valley Bulldogs twice.

The Clippers and Bulldogs faceoff 7 p.m. Friday (March 2) at Frank Crane Arena.

Should Nanaimo hang in there and the Express become derailed, the Clips will have their own destiny in their hands  Sunday (March 4) in Coquitlam and March 7 at Frank Crane Arena as the Clippers and Express square off.

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