The Nanaimo Clippers have earned a banner, and the right to face the rest of the BCHL’s best.
The Clippers are Island Division champions after defeating the Powell River Kings 3-2 in Game 7 on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena.
“It’s unreal. I’ve never been a part of a playoff run like this at all,” said Brendan Taylor, team captain. “It’s an unbelievable feeling and we’re going to take that and move on.”
Game 7 was a one-shot hockey game from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer. Nanaimo opened the scoring early in the first period, then the teams traded goals in the latter stages of the second period and went into the third tied 2-2.
“We work hard to be prepared for those moments,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “You try your very best to go back to the fundamentals and what you’ve trained and prepared yourself for in those situations.”
The Clips were ready. Right away in the third period, they generated a shot on goal and Cole Maier fired in a rebound 18 seconds into the frame. Nanaimo tried to build on its lead and had some chances to do so, but Powell River also applied pressure until time expired.
“Our game plan was to keep pushing,” Taylor said. “We did end up in our D zone a little bit, but we played [with] good defensive structure and we shut them down.”
Maier said throughout Game 7, the Clippers trusted that their process would lead to success.
“Everybody stayed pretty calm and trusted what we were doing and it was great that it ended up working out for us,” he said.
Spencer Hewson and Nick Gushue were the other scorers for Nanaimo, while Stephen Hiff and Derian Hamilton replied for the Kings. Guillaume Decelles was the winning goalie with 33 saves and Brett Magnus made 31 stops in defeat.
“We’ve taken the longest, hardest route to this point that you can in the playoffs,” said Vandekamp, as his Clippers needed the maximum 14 games to become Island champs.
“It shows that we have the battle in us and the will,” said Taylor.
GAME ON … The Clippers now advance to a round-robin stage of the post-season along with the other two division champions. Nanaimo visits the Penticton Vees on Wednesday (March 25) at 7 p.m. and then hosts the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) March 23, 2015