On showcase weekend, the Nanaimo Clippers showed themselves in a positive light.
The city’s junior A hockey team won both its games at the B.C. Hockey League Showcase in Chilliwack to start the season, defeating the West Kelowna Warriors 6-5 on Saturday and then beating the Prince George Spruce Kings 3-1 on Sunday.
The season opener was a bit of a strange one, as the Clips got outshot 48-16 but still managed to hold off the Warriors. Coach Mike Vandekamp said his team showed some nerves and found itself chasing the puck in a sloppy affair.
“But that’s somewhat expected, we didn’t have a ton of time to prepare this week and we’ve got a lot of new players,” he said.
So the fact that he saw immediate day-to-day improvement is as much as he can ask for, he said.
“We managed the puck better [Sunday] than we did the first game; we certainly kept the turnovers down and spent less time in our own end because of it,” said Vandekamp.
Goalie Jayson Argue played both games and was key to both wins, making 43 saves in the first game and 30 saves the next day.
“With a younger team we’re going to make some mistakes and it’s important to have a steady goaltender there to make up for those errors,” said Vandekamp. “He was able to do that.”
The line of Devin Brosseau, Brendan Taylor and Sheldon Rempal was dangerous all weekend. Brosseau and Rempal each scored twice the first game, with Taylor adding two assists. Ryan Forbes and Korey Morgan were Nanaimo’s other scorers in the opener.
The next day Colton Dahlen, Taylor and Brosseau scored goals.
With the stands at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre filled with scouts, the Clippers did enough to get noticed. Vandekamp said a lot of guys were talking to scouts after the games, and suggested the winning results made a difference.
The wins should also serve a young team well as many players are embarking on their first BCHL seasons.
“If you fall behind at all it can put pressure on the group,” said the coach. “The opposite of that is you get some wins and you build some confidence.”
GAME ON … The Clippers have only one game this coming week, Friday (Sept. 13) against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at Weyerhaeuser Arena at Port Alberni. Game time is 7 p.m.