The Nanaimo Clippers are down to their last chance at the Western Canada Cup after being badly beaten by the Surrey Eagles.
The B.C. Hockey League champs scored three times in the second period and coasted to a convincing 4-0 win over the host team on Tuesday night at Frank Crane Arena.
“The best part of the game was the anthem,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach.
He said his team “played OK” in the first period, but noted that it failed to capitalize on a couple of power-play opportunities.
“There were stages as the second period progressed where we got outworked a little bit. We didn’t have the same edge to our game that we had had the previous game,” Vandekamp said.
The Clippers hardly had any puck possession in the Eagles’ end during the second and third periods.
“We were skating and putting Nanaimo back on their heels and creating good scoring opportunities,” said Matt Erhart, Surrey coach.
Drew Best opened the scoring early in the second period on a long wrister. Midway through the game Clippers goalie Jayson Argue stopped Brady Shaw on a penalty shot, and then made some more good saves to keep the score 1-0. But the Eagles got two in a two-minute span late in the second period from Adam Tambellini and Best to take command going into the third.
Just 13 seconds into the third, any hopes of a Clippers comeback were pretty much snuffed when Argue won a race to a puck but broke his stick and left a wide-open net for the Eagles’ Michael Stenerson.
Michael Santaguida recorded the shutout as shots ended up 36-31 in favour of the visitors.
“[We] tried to stay out of the stuff after the whistle, just tried to chip pucks, play simple because that’s the way we play, simple and fast,” said Best.
The win puts the Eagles (2-1) into the WCC’s playoff round, whereas the Clippers (1-2) must win their final round-robin game Thursday (May 2) against the Steinbach Pistons (0-2) to advance.
The Shipmen won’t dwell on their showing Tuesday against the BCHL champs.
“They’re a good team, they just won the league, but at the same time I don’t think we played our best game tonight,” said Kyle Kramer, Clippers alternate captain.
GAME ON … The Clippers and Pistons play Thursday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The winner will move on to the playoff round of the WCC and the loser will be eliminated. Look for a preview Thursday morning at Clippers Central.