The Nanaimo Clippers went into the Westerns planning to treat every game like a must-win. Now the tournament has reached that stage, for real.
The Clippers play their final round-robin game tonight (May 2) against Manitoba’s Steinbach Pistons. The winner keeps playing; the loser is out.
“I want our guys to make sure they recognize what’s at stake here,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach.
He said the team would try to fix the things it did wrong in a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Surrey Eagles. One example is a more-effective dump-and-chase strategy. In the shutout loss the Clippers had trouble establishing the forecheck because the Eagles got to all the dump-ins first and kept the puck away from their crease.
Most simply, Vandekamp said the Clippers need to work hard and play their game.
“We’ve proven that we can play with other teams; we’ve proven that we’re capable of winning,” he said. “So we just have to get back to that.”
Kyle Kramer, Clippers alternate captain, said he thinks his team learned from earlier in the playoffs, when it lost an elimination game to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He thinks his team will be energized for Thursday’s game.
“It’s going to be passion from the get-go,” Kramer said. “Everyone knows it’s going to be a do-or-die situation.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Pistons play Thursday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Tickets will be available at the door, or they can be purchased online at www.nanaimoclippers.com.