The Nanaimo Clippers’ Fitzgerald brothers will fast become fan favourites at Frank Crane Arena.
But tonight (Sept. 18) in Weyerhaeuser Arena at Port Alberni – the triplets’ hometown – none of the Clippers are going to hear any cheers.
“Maybe some boos,” said Leo Fitzgerald. “It shouldn’t get in the way. [I’ll] just play my game, focus on the game.”
Gerry Fitzgerald said it will be fun to play against some of the Bulldogs players he knows from Port Alberni. There will be friends and family in the stands, but as for getting cheers?
“That’s probably too much to ask,” he said.
Leo, Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald played together as a line in the Clippers’ season opener last Saturday at Powell River. It was less than two minutes into the first period when coach Bill Bestwick threw them all on the ice for an even-strength shift.
“I thought it was pretty cool because I wasn’t expecting us all to play together because we’re really small,” said Leo. “But I guess it worked out. We got some points on the board and we won.”
Leo scored a goal, Gerry had two assists and Myles had one helper versus the Kings.
“We cycled the puck pretty well and moved it and it ended up getting in the back of the net a couple times,” Gerry said.
It was shocking, though, he said, that the Clippers played all three brothers as a line. It’s something that hasn’t happened since peewee.
“I wasn’t expecting to play with my brothers. We haven’t played [together] for awhile,” Gerry said. “I thought maybe we’d be arguing or something but it worked out pretty well.”
Bestwick said he planned to keep the same forward lines that worked at Powell River, with Tristan Lowenberger spelling off an injured Brett Hartskamp. So the Fitzgeralds are getting a chance to prove they can play as a line.
“When they’re on the attack and when they’re pursuing people, they’re as dangerous as anybody on the ice…” Bestwick said. “And the stronger they get, the better they’re going to get.”
The Fitzgeralds have shown already that they’re not a novelty act. That said, there is obviously some novelty about seeing the triplets all buzzing around the attacking zone at once.
“What do you say?” asked Bestwick. “They’re going to be fun kids to watch.”
Alberni road game won’t be easy one
This early in the season it’s difficult to get a read on the balance of power in the B.C. Hockey League.
Two teams that are thought to be top contenders in the Coastal Conference will go head-to-head tonight at Port Alberni as the Shipmen take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The last time the teams played, the ’Dogs eliminated the Clips from the playoffs. Both teams have a different look this fall.
“They’re a pretty physical hockey team, so we need to step that up. I think we have a more skilled hockey team,” said Leo. “It’s just who wants it most, I guess.”
GAME ON … Tonight’s tilt at Alberni is a 7 p.m. start. The next action for the Clippers is Friday (Sept. 24) versus Westside at Frank Crane Arena.