Two straight last-minute wins lifted the Nanaimo Clippers.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team (8-6-0-1) showed a flair for dramatic on the weekend at Frank Crane Arena, defeating the Cowichan Valley Capitals 6-5 on Friday and then edging the Powell River Kings 3-2 on Saturday.
In the first game Brenden Forbes scored the game-winning goal with nine seconds to go and the next night Michael McNicholas was the hero, potting a goal with 12 seconds on the clock.
“We had a positive attitude and stayed on our toes the whole game and stuck with it and got the bounces we deserved,” said Forbes.
After Friday’s barnburner-style game, Saturday’s contest was more pleasingly structured to coach Mike Vandekamp’s taste.
Forbes tied the game 1-1 in the second period and Kyle Kramer put the Clippers up 2-1 in the third before Nanaimo ran into penalty trouble and surrendered a tying goal.
“It could have gone either way, but we kept working, kept moving the puck down low and eventually it worked out for us,” said McNicholas.
Nanaimo was able to pressure Powell River leading up to the late goal, and got a point shot into traffic.
“It kind of got bounced around a little bit and Krames got it, shot it for a rebound and then it was sitting right there for me, an easy tap-in goal,” McNicholas said.
Last-second victories can be rallying points for a hockey team, said Vandekamp.
“It was a challenge; it was a battle; you feel like you’ve persevered through something,” he said. “As much as it’s exciting for the fans, it’s just as exciting for the players that were part of it.”
Exciting for team brass, too. Clippers part owner Kelly Hrudey was in attendance Saturday night and was as fired up as anyone after the win. He stopped by the locker room after the game to tell the players they should be proud of themselves.
“Every component that you look for was there tonight,” Hrudey said. “I would have been awfully disappointed had they lost, but even if they did, they showed me enough that we’re going in the right direction.”
Jarrod Schamerhorn made 29 saves for the victory as his team outshot the Kings 39-31.
The previous night, Reid Sturos scored two goals for the Clippers and Greg Trichilo, Colton Dahlen and Greg Fraser had the other markers leading up to Forbes’ winner. Jayson Argue was the winning goalie as Nanaimo outshot Cowichan 35-26.
GAME ON … The Clippers are on the road this coming weekend (Nov. 2-4) for three games in three days against the Vernon Vipers, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and West Kelowna Warriors, respectively. The team’s next home action is Nov. 9 when the Capitals return to Frank Crane Arena.