The Nanaimo Clippers are right in the mix at the Western Canada Cup after a blowout win against the tournament favourites.
The Shipmen (1-1) got the Brooks Bandits (1-1) off their game and scored four power-play goals en route to a 7-2 victory on Sunday night at Frank Crane Arena.
“We came out, we played hard, we played physical and it frustrated those guys,” said Greg Fraser, Nanaimo’s player of the game.
The turning point came late in the first period when the Clippers scored three times on a five-minute man advantage to take a 3-1 lead. The Bandits didn’t like the call, as their player Anthony Paskaruk was tossed for a hit to the head on Clips goalie Jayson Argue.
“What do you say?” asked Brooks coach Ryan Papaioannou. “As soon as the five minutes goes up on the clock [Nanaimo’s goalie]’s up, he’s OK, so there was a miracle at work there.”
Kyle Kramer, Josh Bryan and Brenden Forbes scored in quick succession on the PP.
“Moving it quick and crisp got them out of position a little bit, got us a little bit of a chance to open some seams up and we exposed them well,” said Fraser.
From that point on, Nanaimo wasn’t really threatened as Brooks focused on playing a bruising game.
“We’ve got to be smarter and we’ve got to control ourselves and we’ve got to be positive,” said R.J. Reed, the Bandits’ player of the game.
Reid Sturos made it 4-1 early in the second period on another power play, then Fraser got a breakaway and out-waited the Bandits’ goalie to make it 5-1.
In the third period, Trevor Fitzgerald scored on a long wrister and then Mason Mitchell rounded out the scoring by tipping in a point shot.
The Bandits’ goals were scored by Maddison Smiley in the first period and Reed in the second. Shots ended up 28-24 in favour of Brooks.
Nanaimo coach Mike Vandekamp said special teams was a major part of the game, but he also described the win as a “gutsy effort” by his players.
“You saw a lot of shot blocks and battles won. Just a determined team is what we wanted to be,” he said.
The Clippers coach said Sunday’s win was important to a squad that had given up leads and gotten some bad bounces both in the B.C. Hockey League playoffs and in Saturday’s WCC opener.
“You kind of wonder if that’s ever going to end,” Vandekamp said. “So to be able to make it end here tonight and make it end in a good, solid way is good for the confidence level of the team.”
GAME ON … The Clippers’ next WCC action is Tuesday (April 30) when they host the Surrey Eagles at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena … In Sunday’s early game, the Yorkton Terriers (2-0) defeated the Steinbach Pistons (0-1) by a 3-2 score … There is only one game at Westerns on Monday; the Eagles (0-1) will play the Steinbach Pistons at 7 p.m.