Clippers getting closer

The Nanaimo Clippers plan to make some cuts after their pre-season game Wednesday (Sept. 10) at home against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Nanaimo Clippers forward Jacob Hanlon goes for a shot on goal during a practice drill last week at Frank Crane Arena.

The Nanaimo Clippers have a good crop of players, but they have a lot of work ahead of them as they become a team.

The city’s B.C. Hockey League club is planning to make some cuts after its pre-season game Wednesday (Sept. 10) at home against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

“We need to … get down in numbers, which will allow us to work on creating some chemistry amongst the group and work more on the development of the team game,” said Mike Vandekamp, coach and general manager of the junior A hockey club.

He said he’s looking to add a defenceman, but the personnel at other positions looks good and coaches are seeing strength and skill.

“Do we have the individuals here to make up a talented and successful team? Absolutely. But do we need to learn how to play better as a team? Absolutely,” Vandekamp said.

He said some injuries the past couple of weeks have slowed the process, affecting his ability to evaluate players.

“We would have made more moves by now if we had healthier bodies,” the GM said. “I would have liked to be a lot closer to our team on the ice than we are.”

He’s challenging guys to play hard and play a team game in exhibition. Overly individualistic play won’t impress many coaches, not even at this time of year, Vandekamp said.

“We’ve given the guys information daily on how we’d like to see the team play, and players have to be able to pick up on that,” he said.

Pre-season tests team

The Nanaimo Clippers conclude their warm-up games this week, and next week, hockey starts for real.

The Clips host the Capitals tonight at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday (Sept. 12) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, then play a rematch Saturday at Port Alberni.

The Clippers began exhibition play Friday with a 5-4 overtiame decision over the Victoria Grizzlies, lost 5-4 to the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Tuesday in Duncan, then played the Caps again Wednesday in Nanaimo after press time.

“I guess we’ve played OK; I don’t know what to think about an exhibition…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “They’re exciting games, filled with mistakes both ways.”

In Tuesday’s loss, Anthony Rinaldi scored a pair and Jacob Hanlon and Spencer Hewson also tallied.

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