On trade deadline weekend, the Nanaimo Clippers kept rolling along.
The Clips bolstered their lineup, won both their games and transitioned toward the next stage of the B.C. Hockey League season.
Nanaimo defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 5-2 on Friday in Duncan, then beat the Coquitlam Express by the same 5-2 score the following night at Frank Crane Arena.
“I don’t know if it was our best game, but we ended up with the result we were looking for,” said Cole Maier, Clippers forward, on Saturday night.
The Clips were wary against the Express, as Coquitlam had come back late to win a meeting between the two teams three months ago on the mainland. This time, Nanaimo built a 3-0 lead early in the third, saw the visitors close the gap to 3-2, but didn’t get spooked.
“We’ve been staying pretty focused as a group,” said Mike Vandekamp, the team’s coach.
Maier’s goal from the side of the net with four minutes left secured the win for the Clippers.
“We came through at the end there in the third … after a sort of shaky start,” Maier said. “We’re certainly a much better team than the last time we played them. In the D zone and things like that, we were just able to bear down and do a lot of the little things.”
Nicolas Carrier, Jake Jackson, Corey Renwick and Sheldon Rempal scored Nanaimo’s other goals and goalie Guillaume Decelles was the first star with 38 saves.
The previous night at Cowichan, Carrier, Brendan Taylor, Maier, Rempal and Anthony Rinaldi scored goals and Decelles made 32 saves for the victory.
Vandekamp said the trade deadline was a bit of a distraction – he wasn’t behind the bench to start Saturday’s game as he worked the phones.
“I’ve never brought my phone on a bench before and texted while the game was on,” he said. “We had some stuff going on and being the general manager and the coach at the same time, you’re trying to deal with stuff.”
The Clippers added forward Brendan Shane from the U.S. Hockey League and defenceman Ryan Coghlan from major junior, traded defenceman Taylor Green to the Express and sent forward Nick Guerra to the Prince George Spruce Kings.
“Ideally at this time of the year, with a first-place club, you’re probably [trying to add] this veteran-savvy type of person, but to be honest with you, none of those players were moving around,” Vandekamp said.
The Clippers like the potential of their new additions and since there was no major shakeup, they feel like they’re only continuing to build on their team chemistry.
“The boys are definitely happy with what we’ve got…” Maier said. “I think everybody’s excited and happy with the group we’ve got now.”
GAME ON … The Clippers are on the road this coming weekend, visiting the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks the next day and then the Merritt Centennials the day after that.