Nanaimo Clippers forward Michael Olson scores the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Powell River Kings on March 16

Nanaimo Clippers forward Michael Olson scores the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Powell River Kings on March 16

Great games

The Nanaimo News Bulletin remembers the 10 best games played in the city over the past 10 years.

Sometimes at the rink, or on the field, or at the ballpark, the game ends in a tie. Sometimes it ends as a forgettable blowout. And sometimes it ends up being the greatest game of all time.

There’s a good game going on almost every night, somewhere in Nanaimo. The News Bulletin compiled a list of the 10 best sporting contests played in the city during the last 10 years. On the list are some of the best games ever, and here’s something else to keep in mind: these are some of the best games ever – so far.

 

Nanaimo Clippers 4 Powell River Kings 3Frank Crane Arena, March 13 and 16, 2004

It was the Game 7 that was so good, it couldn’t be contained to just one day.

The Nanaimo Clippers thought they had won their first-round playoff series against the Powell River Kings on a dramatic penalty-shot goal by Tyson Mulock with 80 seconds left in the third period. As it turned out, the drama had barely begun.

The Nanaimo Clippers' Michael Olson is the game hero after scoring the overtime winner in Game 7 against the Powell River Kings in 2004.The Kings protested the referee’s decision to award Mulock’s penalty shot, and the B.C. Hockey League made a bizarre decision that the final 80 seconds of the game be replayed.

So the Clips and Kings took the ice again three nights after Game 7 to play Game 7, again, or at least the last 80 seconds. Some 3,000 people filled Frank Crane, even though they knew there was a chance they would see less than a minute and a half of hockey. There was no ice clean after the pre-game skate, in an effort to re-create late-third-period ice conditions, and the replay started with a faceoff in the attacking zone, with the Clippers on a power play, the score tied 3-3.

The Shipmen had practised offensive-zone faceoffs and power play a lot the day before, said Michael Olson, team captain at the time, but they didn’t capitalize. A few seconds after the power play expired, however, in overtime, the Clips caught a break. Olson was going off for a line change when he found himself open for a pass. He went in on a breakaway and scored, 54 seconds into OT.

If the Clippers and their fans were happy about winning Game 7 the first time, well, that was nothing compared to winning it a second time.

“It was absolutely chaotic,” Olson said. “Emotions were obviously very, very high.”

It ended up being the catalyst for further playoff success that year, he said. Being forced to win Game 7 twice gave the Clips an us-against-the-world mentality.

And they kept winning, capturing their first BCHL championship in 26 years, a championship that wouldn’t have been possible if they hadn’t won one of the Nanaimo’s best games of all time.

“It became that much greater of a story, and a time, and a piece in Clippers history and in hockey history, too…” Olson said. “Hockey presents cool things and neat scenarios all the time.”

 

V.I. Raiders players Tyrel Kerpan, left, Rawleigh Clements, Gordon Robinson, Andrew Smith, Aaron Gillcash, Mark DeSwart and Juan Vandermerwe dogpile in celebration of the team's first national championship at the 2006 Canadian Bowl at Nanaimo's Caledonia Park.

V.I. Raiders 27 Edmonton Wildcats 26Caledonia Park, Nov. 11, 2006

Considering how many wins the V.I. Raiders have racked up at Caledonia Park, one might think choosing the best one would be difficult. It isn’t.

The junior football team’s first-ever championship came in what must have been the greatest game in Canadian Bowl history.

What made the outcome so special was that it seemed so unlikely. Trailing 26-24 with two and a half minutes left, backup quarterback Cody Heintz entered the game and immediately threw an interception. Big, tough offensive lineman Bronson Nichol sat on a bench, head in his hands, crying over a loss.

That’s when the sun came out, finally, and a VIA rail car whistled its support as it rattled past the park.

The Raiders’ defence forced a two-and-out and gave its offence one last chance. The team gained some ground, but not enough, and faced a third-and-15, well out of field-goal range. With one last chance, Heintz hit receiver Andrew Smith for a 33-yard gain.

From tears to cheers, in one play. What had been so improbable had become possible. With two seconds left, kicker Scott Dixon ran onto the field for a 14-yard field goal.

“It was a mess, it was a happy mess. Helmets were flying everywhere,” said Juan Vandermerwe, Raiders defensive back, after the game. “I don’t think we could have imagined the amount of emotion that was going to come through when that ball went through the uprights.”

 

Malaspina Mariners 81 Langara Falcons 80Malaspina University-College gym, Feb. 25, 2005

Todd Warnick, former coach of the Malaspina Mariners men’s basketball team, keeps the video clip on his Facebook page and he still watches it from time to time, seven years later.

Because MalU’s 81-80 win over the Langara Falcons that night was one of those you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it games.

The M’s went into the last weekend of the regular season needing to win both their games to make the B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association playoffs. Up against Langara the first night, it wasn’t looking good – the Mariners trailed all game and were down 79-75 with 10 seconds left.

That’s when star player Jason Hubbs refused to lose. First he made a three-pointer from just a couple steps past half-court. The M’s quickly fouled the Falcons, who made one of two free throws.

An ensuing inbounds pass went to Hubbs. He blazed down the court, pulled up, again, from way back of the three-point line, and let fly.

“The ball’s still in the air when the buzzer goes, and the place exploded,” said Warnick.

That win, he said, was the “tipping point” for the Mariners that year. They won the next day to clinch a playoff berth and overachieved in the post-season, winning a national bronze medal.

What Hubbs and his M’s managed to do that night was textbook basketball, in a way – make a shot, foul, make a shot – but to see it executed like that, with those stakes, and that style, is something that happens only in the greatest games of all time.

“I’ve had other players since hit big shots and hit game-winning shots,” Warnick said. “But nothing comes close to that.”

 

Nanaimo Timbermen 14 Surrey Stickmen 13Civic Arena, May 20, 2006

Really, the junior A Nanaimo Timbermen had no reason to believe they could win – they’d never won, before that night.

But they found belief, they found just enough goals and they found a way to win a lacrosse game for the first time in franchise history.

“We knew it was the last year at the Civic, so we knew we had to turn a new leaf and get something going,” remembered Jon Diplock, the game hero.

It almost didn’t happen that night – the team needed a goal from Diplock with 32 seconds left just to force overtime.

Then in overtime, Nanaimo quickly fell behind 13-11, and they were still trailing 13-12 with a minute left. Kyle Bazansky’s power-play goal with 32 seconds left in OT tied things up and had the crowd chanting “Na-nai-mo, Na-nai-mo” as the teams lined up for the faceoff. Teammates hastened to get the ball on Diplock’s stick, and seven seconds later, he had his seventh goal of the game.

“It was something special,” he said. “I remember scoring and jumping on the glass and pretty much the whole team came after me. Even though the game wasn’t over, there was probably 15 guys on the floor.”

Of course, the T-men hung on for the win, to the delight of minor lacrosse players, who high-fived one another in the stands.

“To this day I still hear people talking about that game,” Diplock said. “So it’s pretty cool.”

 

VIU Mariners players Shenise Power, left, Tamara Rosenlund, Dani Smith, Marlie Temple and Alyssa Wolf celebrate match point as the volleyball team wins the Canadian Colleges' Athletic Association national championship in March at the VIU gym.

VIU Mariners 3 Mount Royal Cougars 1Vancouver Island University gym, March 10, 2012

This one might not have been as close as the other games on the list, but it’s every bit as unforgettable.

What made this volleyball match so special was the outcome – national championship gold for the home team right on campus at Vancouver Island University. Making the victory even sweeter was that it came against a Royals team that had defeated the M’s in the previous winter’s controversial national final.

And there was some drama in the rematch – the visitors took the first set before the home team took over to win 23-25, 25-18, 25-19, 26-24.

“Unbelievable,” said Tamara Rosenlund, VIU player, that night. “I couldn’t ask for anything better than this, ever.”

 

Nanaimo Clippers 2 Vernon Vipers 1Frank Crane Arena, April 9, 2007

A huge overtime goal by the captain was vital to the Nanaimo Clippers’ championship run in 2004, and that was the case again with the 2007 championship team.

After the Clippers had taken Game 1 of the B.C. Hockey League final against the Vernon Vipers, Game 2 was pivotal in the series. Of course, the game went to overtime, and then to double overtime.

Taylor Langford wasn’t Nanaimo’s top scorer that year, but no one wanted to win more than he did on that night. The coach must have seen something in his captain’s play – Langford and his linemates stayed out for three consecutive offensive-zone faceoffs leading up to the winning goal. Langford did it all himself on the play, taking the puck right into the blue paint and scoring on his team’s 20th shot of overtime.

“It really did come down to desire,” said Mike Garman, Clippers goalie, after the game.

 

V.I. Raiders 33 Okanagan Sun 27Caledonia Park, Oct. 14, 2007

The Raiders trailed the Sun into the fourth quarter before surging ahead. Still, the game was close enough that the home team needed a game-saving interception from Aaron Gillcash on his own five-yard line with 20 seconds left.

“This is how a championship game should be,” said Hadi Abassi, team owner, as he paced the sideline during the final minutes.

 

Nanaimo District Islanders 18 John Barsby Bulldogs 12NDSS field, Nov. 2, 2007

For a decade, the Barsby Bulldogs have beaten the NDSS Islanders every time the varsity football teams have played. Every time except once – and that’s what helped to make the 2007 Kocher Classic the most classic to date.

The teams alternated touchdowns, with NDSS scoring the game-winning TD with five minutes left and holding on. ND’s Eric Mattes had two touchdowns and teammate Dan Baxter made 17 tackles.

“It was a real hyped-up atmosphere,” said Steve Koehler, Islanders co-coach at the time. “It was ecstatic – the parents, the fans, the kids were excited. It was a lot of hoopla going around.”

 

Dover Bay Dolphins 53 Spectrum Thunder 52NDSS gym, Feb. 21, 2003

The Dover Bay Dolphins senior girls’ basketball team earned a berth in provincials thanks to a game-winning three-pointer from Steph Chow with nine seconds left. Her go-ahead shot created such a roar in the gym that Dover players didn’t hear the referee’s whistle calling a Spectrum timeout. The Thunder had a chance to go back ahead but missed, as Chow then hauled down the rebound.

“Everyone was cheering so loud I couldn’t even hear the final buzzer,” she said afterward.

 

Nanaimo Pirates infielder Mike Griffin, middle, throws to first base to complete a double play during an extra-innings win over the Triple Play Hornets during the Bruce MacFarlane Memorial Baseball Tournament at Serauxmen Stadium in 2003.

Nanaimo Pirates 4 Triple Play Hornets 3Serauxmen Stadium, Aug. 31, 2003

The Nanaimo Pirates defeated a team from Washington state in the final of the second annual Bruce MacFarlane Memorial Baseball Tournament.

The game went to extra innings before Shane Ludvigson doubled off the wall to start the eighth, and Grant Vickers followed up with a game-winning RBI.

“It was nice to get that hit in the game for Bruce,” Ludvigson said afterward.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

The Nanaimo Business Awards are accepting nominations now. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce image)
Nanaimo Business Awards accepting nominations of worthy winners

This year’s awards aren’t until the fall, but the nomination period ends June 28

Retailers say they’re ready for the ban on single-use plastic checkout bags in Nanaimo when it takes effect July 1. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Retailers report they’re ready for Nanaimo’s single-use checkout bag ban

Business operators say there’s been plenty of time to plan and prepare for bylaw that kicks in July 1

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews on scene at a boat fire near the boat ramp at Long Lake on Sunday, June 20. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Boat burns up on Nanaimo’s Long Lake, man and child unhurt

Jet skiers attempt to put out fire by circling around to spray water on burning boat

Gabriola singer-songwriter Sarah Osborne, Cowichan Valley duo Heartwood, Vancouver singer Kelly Haigh and Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo (clockwise from top-left) are among the performers in this year’s Cultivate Festival. (Photos submitted)
Gabriola Arts Council presents COVID-conscious Cultivate Festival

Theatre, music and art festival returns to Gabriola Island after 2020 hiatus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomer by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read