The Nanaimo Clippers still don’t have their first pre-season win, but they’ve raised their game another level.
The Clippers were edged 5-4 by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in B.C. Hockey League exhibition play on Wednesday night at Frank Crane Arena. Nanaimo battled back from a 4-0 deficit to twice close the gap to one goal, but couldn’t get a tying marker despite outshooting Port 49-15.
“Once we got the energy going in the game, and our legs, I thought we actually played pretty well…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We wanted to see more spirit and use our speed more and that kind of thing out of our group and I thought we saw that.”
He said that when the game got to 4-0 there was potential for things to unravel, and said the fact that it didn’t is a good sign.
“Showing resiliency’s really important through the season in this league. You’re going to face lots of adversity along the way…” Vandekamp said. “And this year’s group, we’re got a lot of new faces, a younger team, an inexperienced team. We’re going to have to know how to deal with that stuff.”
Jamie Collins, a newcomer to the forward ranks, said the Clippers forechecked hard Wednesday and did a good job generating shots.
“I think this was a step in the right direction for our team…” he said. “It was a good game for us just as a team and for the coaching staff and everybody piecing it all together.”
Ben Solin, another new forward, thinks the chemistry is starting to come along but said the team recognizes it needs to be better at playing a full 60 minutes.
“A lot of the veteran guys got us together and kind of set our minds straight,” he said. “And I think that the chemistry kind of showed from the second and third period on.”
Goal scorers for the Clippers on Wednesday were D.J. Petruzzelli, Adam Donnelly, David Silye and Shawn Guison. Antoine Desmeules had two assists.
For the Bulldogs, Tristan Bukovec had a goal and three assists and other scorers were Willie Daignault, Paul Luebke, Ryan Finnegan and Jake Wilhelm.
GAME ON … The Clippers have two more pre-season games, both against the Victoria Grizzlies. The Clips host the Grizz on Friday (Sept. 2) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena; admission is $5 for pre-season games. The teams will play a rematch Saturday down the Malahat.