The Nanaimo Clippers have picked up right where they left off – winning hockey games.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club won two more games this past weekend to extend its win streak to nine, a stretch of the schedule straddling the holiday break.
The Clippers defeated the Langley Rivermen 5-2 on alumni night Saturday at Frank Crane Arena, then followed up Sunday with a 4-1 win against the defending-champion Wenatchee Wild. Both games were played at Frank Crane Arena.
Ken McPhalen, Clippers assistant coach, said the team got better as the game went on Sunday, and by the third period, guys were “flying.”
He said the Clippers generally stuck to what they wanted to do against the Wild, who are the BCHL’s second-highest-scoring team.
“It’s a matter of picking up your assignments in your own end. We kept them to the outside pretty good for most of the game,” McPhalen said. “They had a couple of Grade A ones inside on us, but you limit those as much as you can and that’s what paid off.”
Nanaimo was opportunistic, scoring four times on 20 shots, and McPhalen said the Clippers were looking to counterattack and make the most of their chances.
“Most of our game is just about flow and making sure we move the puck around and find that guy that’s in the good scoring areas, and if we do that, our guys can shoot and today they were hitting the targets,” the assistant coach said.
Landon Pavlisin, who made 35 saves and was chosen first star, said he used the holiday break to reset and that’s worked for him, and he said his defencemen made big plays when he needed them to against the Wild.
“We know how they cycle around the zone, so we were just really focusing on covering and staying on your own guy,” he said.
Gunnar Wegleitner scored twice for Nanaimo and Sammy Steele and Marcus Mitchell also lit the lamp. The night before, it was Tyler Williams, Mitchell, Robby Drazner, Wegleitner and Ethan Scardina with the goals. Jordan Naylor made 24 saves.
Sunday’s game was the last one before the Jan. 10 trade deadline, so the Clippers will approach that date with a winning streak.
McPhalen said anything can happen at the deadline but he doesn’t foresee much change.
“We’ve got great chemistry here, a great group of people, so I don’t think you want to mess with that,” he said.
Pavlisin said the Clippers can “definitely” achieve their goals with the current group, saying, “we’ve got a good team here and we can do whatever we need to do with this team.”
GAME ON … The Clippers are on the road this coming weekend, Jan. 11-13, visiting the Trail Smoke Eaters, the Penticton Vees and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, respectively.