Nanaimo Clippers
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Nanaimo Clippers forward Kyle Kramer, right, checks a Prince George Spruce Kings opponent during Sunday afternoon’s B.C. Hockey League game at Frank Crane Arena. The Clippers went on to win 2-0.
GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

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Clippers right ship right away

The Nanaimo Clippers not only made sure to avoid a slump, but they now find themselves on a bit of a hot streak.

The city's B.C. Hockey League team won two out of three games on the weekend. After starting Friday with a 5-1 road loss against the Victoria Grizzlies, the Clippers returned to Frank Crane Arena and defeated the Powell River Kings 3-2 on Saturday and then shut out the Prince George Spruce Kings 2-0 on Sunday.

After being thoroughly outplayed by the Grizz and outshot 53-16 on Friday, coach Mike Vandekamp said the message was simple moving forward.

"It was important that we stopped any slide right away and I thought we did that, because I think we played six pretty good periods here at home this weekend," he said.

Goalie Jayson Argue, who earned both weekend wins, said he thought the Clippers responded well after the loss.

"Our team was going," he said. "And defensively I think we gave up less shots these last two games than we did in that one game."

The Clippers allowed 24 shots against the Paper Kings and 26 against the Spruce Kings, partly by getting back to doing what they do best, said defenceman Chris Rygus.

"We went back to focusing on limiting the odd-man rushes and turnovers and that kind of stuff, and we just went from there," he said. "We had good outs and good ins and limited their second chances."

In Sunday's shutout the Clips had to battle some adversity as defenceman David London fell ill and forward Michael McNicholas was hurt early on.

"We handled that and adjusted well," said Vandekamp. "We didn't give [the Spruce Kings] a ton of good quality opportunities. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. Probably the only constructive criticism for us would be to bear down on some of our scoring opportunities."

That happened early in the third period of Sunday's win. Rygus, who had passed on some earlier shooting opportunities, fired one from the point that found its way into the top corner. A minute and a half later, Matt Grant finished off a pretty passing three-way passing play to give the Clips some insurance.

Nanaimo has won four out of its last five games and will continue a busy month of hockey with seven more games in January.

"The second half is big here, it's where teams pull away and where teams drop off," said Argue. "It's a matter of us knowing what we have to do and building on these two wins here."

ICE CHIPS … Greg Fraser scored Nanaimo's goal on Friday while Derek Dun made 48 saves in defeat. On Saturday Nick Gushue, Rygus and Kyle Kramer were the goal scorers and Argue made 22 saves as shots ended up 35-24 for Nanaimo. In Sunday's matinee, shots were 40-26 for the Clippers … The BCHL trade deadline is Jan. 10 … The Clippers play a home-and-home series against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Jan. 11) and Saturday, hosting the Caps on Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.


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