In a benchmark game, the Nanaimo Clippers showed they’re among the league’s best.
The Clips defeated the Penticton Vees 3-2 in overtime on Saturday at Frank Crane Arena in a matchup of the B.C. Hockey League’s top two teams.
“It’s a pretty big boost, I’d say…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “At the 20-game mark of the season, it’s a benchmark game. Now we can kind of say, ‘OK, we know we can beat anyone’ and you probably raise your expectations.”
The Shipmen didn’t expect it to be easy against the Vees, and it wasn’t. The home team ran into significant penalty trouble, including a late four-minute penalty, that allowed the visitors to force overtime.
In OT, however, the Clippers killed off the remainder of the penalty and then on the very next shift, Jake Jackson split the defence and scored the winning goal.
“We didn’t let them get any momentum going,” Jackson said. “Even after they scored some goals, we came back and put the pressure on, every time.”
There was no scoring in the first or second periods. The Vees finally broke the ice on the power play six and a half minutes into the third period, but the Clippers’ Sheldon Rempal tied it up 30 seconds later. Nanaimo went ahead with four and a half minutes left on a Nick Gushue goal before Penticton tied it with the goalie pulled.
Vandekamp said his team played a good, structured game.
“We were prepared and I thought we stuck to the game plan pretty well, as did they, and it’s the type of hockey that you’ll see when two good teams play each other,” the coach said.
Jackson said going into Saturday’s tilt, “it was in the back of everybody’s mind” that the top team was coming to town, but said the goal was the same as always, to get the two points. That’s what they did.
“It’s going to keep us rolling,” he said. “We’ve got to come back and work every game. Penticton’s great, but there’s a lot of other quality teams in the league and we have to come back and play every single game.”
Guillaume Decelles made 40 stops for the win. He also earned the win in net the night before as the Clippers came back to beat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-4 in overtime. Brendan Taylor scored twice in that game, including the game winner, and Ryan Forbes, Brett Roulston and Jackson were other scorers.
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Bulldogs on Friday (Nov. 14) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, then host the Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday in a 2 p.m. matinee.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) November 9, 2014