The Nanaimo Clippers played a defensively sound game, stuck with it for their whole road trip, and had success.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team returns home after earning five out of six points at Interior Conference arenas this past weekend. The Clips fell 4-3 to the Vernon Vipers in double overtime on Friday, bested the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 2-1 in double OT the next day, then shut out the West Kelowna Warriors 2-0 on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re getting kind of used to being in those tight games and being able to come through in those tight games,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “So it’s created a sense of confidence in the team.”
In Sunday’s win the Clippers got to play most of the game with a lead after Reid Sturos’s short-handed marker 15 minutes into the first period. Kyle Kramer added some insurance, scoring on a wrist shot with 11 minutes left in the game. Jayson Argue made 37 saves for the shutout.
Vandekamp said his team didn’t just hunker down and try to protect the lead; he said his squad continued to attack well. There weren’t a lot of penalties, so the Clippers could roll their lines, and the coach said his players skated well even at the tail-end of a long trip.
“We used our whole team. I think from a minutes-played standpoint it was pretty equal across the board,” he said. “Our system certainly is one that requires energy and hard work and we didn’t change anything [Sunday]. We tried our best to come after them, even though it was our third game in two and a half days.”
Kramer and Sturos were the goal scorers on Saturday, too, with Sturos potting the game winner 11 seconds into double overtime. Jarrod Schamerhorn was the winning goalie, making 32 saves.
On Friday, Luke Gordon and Greg Fraser scored before Josh Bryan’s point shot tied the game with three minutes left to force OT. Argue suffered the loss in goal after a 36-save effort.
“We hit some goal posts and just didn’t seem to get a bounce,” Vandekamp said. “We could have had two points.”
Still, after finishing with five of six points and allowing only one goal total over the final two games of the trip, the Clippers are encouraged about their game.
“It’s been a good stretch,” said the coach. “We’ve had opportunities at different times this year to maybe have that moment where we were able to take off, but we just haven’t. Maybe this is finally the time. I guess we’ll find out this next weekend.”
GAME ON … The Clippers play a home-and-home set against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Nov. 9) and Saturday. Friday’s game goes at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, with the rematch the next night at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.