The Nanaimo Clippers are back on the ice and brimming with energy.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club opened training camp this week, with the first practices Tuesday morning at Frank Crane Arena.
“It’s a lot of energy, because we’re just so excited to be back out here and getting out on the ice,” said Lucas Finner, veteran forward.
Taylor Karel, returning defenceman, said the first skate went really well.
“It’s good to get back into things, everyone’s excited and there’s obviously a lot of energy; you want to make the team, you want to make your first impression, so everyone’s going to be working hard,” he said. “That’s how camp should be and that’s how it’s going to continue to be the rest of the week.”
There will be a lot to take in for the coaching staff. Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach and general manager, said the amount of knowledge he has about the players varies.
“So that’s really what the camp is all about. You’re learning every day about your group and … you’re observing things that go beyond just what’s happening on the ice,” he said.
With so much roster turnover in 2016-17, Vandekamp said he’s not pigeonholing players into roles like scorers and checkers.
“The opportunity for an extra shift on the power play and things like that, it’s absolutely wide open,” he said.
Coaches will “put the hammer on” players, Vandekamp said, as far as challenging them physically. Two skates each day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, plus an intrasquad game Friday and a pre-season game on Saturday are meant to amount to a heavy workload, both for players’ bodies and minds.
“If you can’t deal with the pressure of training camp, then you’re not going to be able to deal with the pressure that happens in March and April, either,” Vandekamp said. “So I think it’s important to be able to step up and shine, even when you’re in a situation that’s got a little bit of stress with it.”
The series of intrasquad games adds another element, as Team Orange and Team Black will scrimmage Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The rosters may then be tweaked for the Rhodesie Cup intrasquad game on Friday.
“The intrasquad games can get pretty heated,” Finner said. “Guys are pretty competitive out there. Everybody’s trying to win and compete. So it should be fun to watch.”
GAME ON … The orange-versus-black intrasquad games are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 3:30 p.m. each day at Frank Crane Arena. The Rhodesie Cup is held in memory of Michael Rhode, a longtime Nanaimo sports reporter. The game is Friday at 6 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena and admission is by donation, with proceeds benefiting the Nanaimo Boys and Girls Club. The first BCHL pre-season game is Saturday, when the Clips visit the Cowichan Valley Capitals for a 7 p.m. faceoff at Duncan’s Island Savings Centre.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) August 23, 2016