Hockey is heating up as the Nanaimo Clippers transition from training camp to pre-season.
The Clips played their first B.C. Hockey League exhibition game on Saturday, falling 4-3 to the Cowichan Valley Capitals, and the schedule will now get more demanding with games against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Tuesday (Aug. 30) at Port Alberni and Wednesday in Nanaimo.
The Clippers wrapped the first week of training camp with their annual Rhodesie Cup intrasquad game Friday at Frank Crane Arena. The contest ended up being an exciting one, as Team White erased a 5-2 third-period deficit to force overtime before Team Black eventually won 7-6 in double overtime. Sean Buchanan scored for Team White with six seconds left in the third period, then David Silye scored the double-OT winner with 19 seconds left.
“I thought today was great,” said D.J. Petruzzelli, Clippers forward, after the game. “Both teams played really well, everyone was playing hard, finishing checks and making good plays out there…
“What you want to see is you’re getting better as the week progresses and I think the guys did a great job of that.”
The Rhodesie Cup, held in memory of longtime Nanaimo sports reporter Michael Rhode, was a charity fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island and closed out a four-game series of intrasquad matchups.
“I think that was the best game of the week,” said Adam Pilotte, Clippers defenceman. “Everybody was working hard all week and today they just stepped up their game.”
A few things will change as the Clippers go from playing against teammates to playing against other BCHL clubs. Petruzzelli said he expects the intensity to “ramp up” a little bit more and he looks forward to seeing what’s happening around the Island Division.
“It’ll be great to see what those guys have and how we match up against them, so yeah, we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
Pilotte said moving from intrasquad games to pre-season games, not much needs to change.
“A game is a game, so you prepare yourself the same way,” he said. “Of course there’s going to be more competition and we’re going to try to go hard and win.”
Pilotte said winning would help to build momentum for the regular season, not to mention that “it’s always fun to win.”
Petruzzelli agreed that it’s important to play to win in the pre-season.
“Whenever you go into a game, you want to win,” he said. “So we want to set the tone in the division. We believe we’re still the team to beat.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Bulldogs play Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Arena. The teams play a rematch Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.