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Shipmen look at key stretch of home games

Whether at home or away, the Nanaimo Clippers will need to win games to gain the playoff position they want.

But they can’t help but look at this week’s schedule as an important stretch.

The Clippers beat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-1 on Wednesday and still have two more games at Frank Crane Arena this week, playing the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday (Jan. 25) and the Merritt Centennials on Sunday.

In February the Clippers will play seven of their nine games on the road, so they’d like to finish January with positive results.

“We’ve got to take advantage of it,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, Clippers captain. “It’s our rink – no one should be coming in here and taking points from us.”

The games against Trail and Merritt are unpredictable, in a way, since the Clippers don’t play Interior Division opponents as often as other clubs. Without natural rivalries, there can be a tendency to approach opening faceoff without the required intensity.

The Clippers will try to guard against that, said Fitzgerald, and will try to start fast and take opponents by surprise.

“They don’t really know what to expect,” he said.

“We look at the way we play and if we come out and play our game it’s going to be like nothing they’ve seen in that conference. They play against teams like Penticton, really skilled teams, but there’s a lot more grit over here, it seems.”

GAME ON … The Clippers (22-15-0-2) host the Smoke Eaters (18-24-0-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s tilt with the Centennials (22-12-1-3) is a 3 p.m. faceoff.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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