The Nanaimo Clippers couldn’t really replicate playoff hockey, so they did the next best thing.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club resumed skating this past weekend with a three-day training camp utilizing three different mid-Island ice rinks.
With practices and scrimmages every day, it was a ton of ice time meant to “shock the system” and get guys back into hockey mode, said Mike Vandekamp, the team’s coach.
The Clippers were eliminated from the first-round of the BCHL playoffs back on March 20, but the season didn’t end, as Nanaimo gets a host berth in the Western Canada Cup tournament starting next week.
With lots more to play for, the Clippers stepped back on the ice this past weekend with plenty of enthusiasm.
“I’ve seen a lot of that,” Vandekamp said. “Guys are clearly excited to be back on the ice. From that standpoint [the camp] served its purpose. Guys appear to be well-rested, the energy levels are high and the pace has been real good.”
Kyle Kramer, an alternate captain on the Clippers, said the playoff run obviously didn’t go the way the guys wanted, but they tried to make the best of the situation.
“We got some time off to get some rest and we’re full of energy coming back,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Kramer said with recruits and prospects joining the regulars at this past weekend’s camp, it upped the tempo. All the participants were high-level players, said Vandekamp, so guys could go 100 per cent. Kramer said the Clippers have to play that way.
“The teams that we’re going to be playing [at Westerns], they’re going to be the champions of their league so we’ve got to come out hard and we’ve got to be playing up to playoff standard.”
The Clippers will have some work to do to reach that standard. They can’t totally rewrite the game plan at this point, but they can try to demand better.
“It’s kind of hard to transform your approach this far into the season,” Kramer said. “So we’ve just got to sharpen up and cut down on the mistakes.”
At the same time, they need to do something different, or better, to make sure that their second playoff run goes differently than their first.
“What we’ve tried to do at the camp is think a little bit outside the box when it comes to putting guys in different lines and different positions and roles…” Vandekamp said. “We have to look at that with an open mind.”
GAME ON … The Clippers begin play at the Western Canada Cup on April 27 when they face Saskatchewan’s Yorkton Terriers at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.