The Nanaimo Clippers had a chance to start off the Western Canada Cup on the right foot, but instead they’ll have to skate to catch up.
The Clippers lost 4-3 to the Yorkton Terriers on Saturday night at Frank Crane Arena.
The game was close all the way through, with no team opening up more than a one-goal lead at any point. The Clippers tied the game twice in the first period and then got a go-ahead goal early in the second period on a point shot from Colton Dahlen. That score stood until the Terriers tied it with seven minutes left in the game, then bounced in the winning goal with four minutes left to play.
“It was our own fault that the game went the way it did,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, Clippers captain. “We had complete control of the game and I guess we’ve got to be stronger mentally and more mature.”
The Terriers scored two of their goals – including the tying goal – on Clippers giveaways in the Nanaimo zone.
“Everything they got tonight, we gave them,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “Turnovers, lost faceoffs, we’ve got to do a better job.”
The first period was played with high energy by both teams. Greg Fraser tied the game 1-1 on a rebound and then late in the period Matt Grant tied it 2-2 on a low wrister.
The Clippers had the edge in play in a slower-paced second period, but the Terriers picked up their game in the third.
“We know we have to win these games, they’re crucial games, so we just had to come out hard and we did,” said Jeremy Johnson, who scored twice for the Terriers.
Derek Dun, the surprise starter in the Nanaimo crease, made 31 saves in defeat and Yorkton’s Dawson MacAuley made 39 saves at the other end. Devon McMullen scored the winning goal and Tayler Thompson had the Terriers’ other marker.
The Shipmen won’t take much comfort in the fact that they played the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champions tough.
“To look at it like we had a pretty good game with a team that won a championship is a terrible way to look at it,” Fitzgerald said. “We had the ability to walk all over those guys and just dominate that game for a full 60 minutes but we were not focused mentally.”
Wins and losses are magnified at a tournament like the WCC, but Vandekamp said his team will be prepared to play Sunday (April 28) when they take on Alberta’s Brooks Bandits.
“The guys will be excited to get out and play a little bit better tomorrow,” he said.
GAME ON … The Clippers and Bandits play at 7 p.m. Sunday at Frank Crane Arena … In Saturday’s early game, the Bandits defeated the Surrey Eagles 4-2.