The Nanaimo Clippers weren’t ready for puck drop, and it cost them.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team lost 5-4 to the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena after falling behind 5-0 in the first period.
“This is the first bad start we’ve actually had this year. We scored the first goal six games in a row before today and had been off to pretty good starts most nights,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “This is a new trend. We haven’t been able to finish games but now we’ve found a way to not be able to start one.”
The coach said his team’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Grizzlies last Wednesday might have rattled his team’s confidence and affected its start on Sunday.
“Part of mental toughness is being able to come back after facing adversity,” he said. “Part of that is focus, being ready to play.”
The Clippers were happy they at least made a game of it. Goalie Chris Eiserman was pulled after the first period and the Clips only allowed 11 shots against Billy Faust the rest of the way.
David Iacono, Josh Phillips, Graeme McCormack and Andrew Gladiuk scored for the home team.
“What I saw in the last 40 minutes was pretty impressive, so let’s hope that we can build on that,” Vandekamp said.
Newly named captain Trevor Fitzgerald said the near comeback shows “that we have it if we want it” and stressed the importance of coming into a game with intensity. The Clippers can fix the problem, said the captain.
“We’ve got to prepare starting now for the next game. You can’t start the night before, you can’t start while you’re coming to the rink,” Fitzgerald said. “You’ve got to start preparing after that last game ends.”
GAME ON … The Clippers play at home Friday (Oct. 21) at 7 p.m. against the Langley Rivermen, then play at Frank Crane Arena again on Sunday in a 3 p.m. faceoff against the Chilliwack Chiefs … To read more about Fitzgerald’s appointment as team captain, please visit Clippers Central on Wednesday afternoon or pick up the next issue of the Bulletin.