When the Nanaimo Clippers skated off the ice last spring, they were cheered for all they’d done. When they skate back onto the ice this week, they’ll be cheered for what’s to come.
The Clippers hold their home opener this Friday (Sept. 18) as the Victoria Grizzlies visit Frank Crane Arena for a B.C. Hockey League matchup.
Part of the festivities that night will be player introductions, including one for the newest Clippers captain, Devin Brosseau.
“I’m really excited. It’s an absolute honour to wear the ‘C’ for the Clippers this year,” said the veteran centre.
Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach, said Brosseau is a “really good ambassador” for the team and a confident, mature, take-charge type of leader.
“He’s obviously one of our most experienced players; he knows what we’re looking for here on a daily basis,” said the coach.
The 20-year-old from Saint-Lambert, Que., was a 20-goal scorer in his rookie season in 2013-14 but missed more than 20 games with injury in his sophomore season last year.
“It’s kind of a bounce-back year if you want to call it that,” Brosseau said. “You want to be able to come back and produce and perform.”
He wants to be reliable defensively, while at the same time contributing offensively.
“I think [the captaincy] is going to push him to have to be more consistent in his play, and that’s going to help him have the year that he needs to have,” said Vandekamp.
Aside from Brosseau’s on-ice accomplishments, he has also enhanced the fan experience at Frank Crane Arena. In his rookie year, he advocated for free admission for children, a move that has boosted attendance ever since. He said players were talking in the locker room about trying to attract more kids and teens to games.
“They’re the ones that like to make some noise in the rink,” he said.
He looks forward to seeing fans young and old fill the Frank for this week’s home opener.
“It gives you that extra energy on the ice and it has a pretty big impact,” Brosseau said. “We love our fans, we support them, they support us and I think that’s the way it should be in junior hockey.”
GAME ON … The Clips and Grizz face off at 7 p.m. Friday. Nanaimo hosts the Powell River Kings on Saturday at 6 p.m.