The Nanaimo Clippers’ playoff run is coming down to a Game 7.
The Clips and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs will need a deciding game in their first-round series after the Dogs won 4-3 on Tuesday night at Port Alberni.
Game 6 was a back-and-forth affair, with Nanaimo tying the contest twice, then falling behind 4-2 before closing the margin to 4-3 early in the third. The Shipmen dominated the final frame but came up short.
“We got a lot greasier and a lot more competitive as the game went along,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “I thought we showed a lot of heart and a lot of spirit.”
The Bulldogs were able to get enough bounces to win, though.
“They threw pucks at the net and crashed it and found ways for them to go off their body,” Vandekamp said.
The Clippers got goals from Brett Roulston, Devin Brosseau and Jake Jackson, while Eric Therrien scored two for the Bulldogs and Marcus Russell and Josh Adkins had the others. Billy Christopoulos was the winning goalie with 33 saves, while Guillaume Decelles made 27 saves in defeat.
Defending against greasy, playoff-style goals is difficult, Vandekamp said. It will take “absolutely determined effort to not let people get to your net … and rebound control, box out, picking up men – it’s concerted effort to protect the crease and protect the net.”
He wants his Clippers to play with confidence in Game 7 knowing that they’ve had some tough bounces and have played well.
“I don’t think we were outplayed tonight, not even close. I don’t think we were outplayed last night, either. And I certainly don’t think we were outplayed in Game 4,” Vandekamp said. “But they’ve found a way to pop a puck across the line more often than we did.”
So what was once a three-games-to-none series lead for Nanaimo comes down to three periods. Alberni’s fan support at Frank Crane Arena has grown as the series has gone along, so Nanaimo will need a lot of friendly fans in the stands on Wednesday.
Winner-take-all games are great in any sport, Vandekamp said.
“It comes down to every little battle being really important,” he said. “And it’s not about being afraid to make mistakes out there … There’s going to be some mistakes made along the way; we’re not going to play a perfect game. But we certainly have to make sure that we really compete and trust ourselves.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Bulldogs face off on Wednesday (March 11) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.