The Nanaimo Clippers are one win away from reaching the BCHL finals.
Thanks to results on the out-of-town scoreboard this week, the Clippers can advance to the championship round if they can defeat the Penticton Vees on Thursday (April 2) in Nanaimo.
The Vees beat the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-2 on Tuesday night in the Okanagan, so the Vees are 3-0 in the round robin, the Clippers are 1-1 and the Chiefs are 0-3. A win by the Clips on Thursday would mean the Chiefs can’t catch them, and the round robin would end.
“It’s put us in a good spot,” said Jake Jackson, Clippers forward.
Corey Renwick, another Clippers forward, said the 7-3 win over the Chiefs on Friday restored his team’s confidence heading into tonight’s huge test.
“We’re super pumped for that game and we’re really confident now,” he said.
Nanaimo lost 4-1 to Penticton to start the round robin, but the Clippers think they have a better idea now what it will take to have success against that opponent.
“We’re a lot bigger team, so we’ve just got to use our size and strength gainst them and be a lot more physical,” Renwick said.
Jackson said his team will need to work the puck well down low and try to set up opportunities for point shots that way.
“And get everybody to the net, because I know [Hunter] Miska’s a strong goalie,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to get to him. Maybe not take goalie interference penalties, but get the puck up and past him.”
The Clippers think they’ll be able to rise to the occasion on Thursday because they’ve gained so much experience this post-season playing in big games. They recognize there may have been lulls in their intensity at times during the first two rounds, but no more, said Jackson.
“Now that we’re in the round robin and every game is intense, it’s made us come out and play strong no matter what,” he said.
Another reason to win is for the fans at Frank Crane Arena, who are coming out in greater numbers as the post-season progresses.
“It’s feeling like it’s getting bigger,” said Renwick.
Jackson said there’s great atmosphere at the rink.
“It really gives us even more life than we had before,” he said. “I know we shouldn’t be a third-period team, but when everybody’s out here cheering and the game’s getting intense and everybody’s excited, it makes it even better.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Vees play Thursday (April 2) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The box office at the arena will be open all day starting at 10 a.m., or fans can phone 250-751-0593.