It was a wild weekend for the Nanaimo Clippers, one that ended with them brimming with confidence.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club won two out of three games. They started with a 7-2 home-ice loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday, but shut out Alberni the next night, 5-0, then knocked off the league-leading Penticton Vees by a 4-2 score on Sunday at Frank Crane Arena.
Good scoring chances were hard to come by against the Vees, but the Clips made good on two power plays, including David Iacono’s game winner from the edge of the crease with four minutes left in the third period.
“We definitely had more work ethic than we’ve had…” said Iacono. “Everyone was on the right page and we came together and got the win.”
Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach, said his team kept the game simple, managed the puck smartly and played with composure in its own end.
“It’s only the 11th game of the season, but it’s a good confidence booster…” he said. “This is a good message for our players that … we’re in every game and we can beat anybody on any given night if we come together and play hard as a team.”
Trevor Fitzgerald, Kevin Miller and newcomer Greg Trichilo were the other goal scorers and goalie Jayson Argue got the win as his team outshot the Vees 35-31.
The turning point in the weekend came after the blowout loss, which the Clips treated as a wakeup call.
“That’s rock bottom, right there, early-in-the-season rock bottom,” Vandekamp said. “But I think we woke the expletive up. That was basically the difference, we worked harder, stayed more focused.”
The soul-searching after that game included some harsh words in the locker room.
“We weren’t mean to each other, we were just realistic. We expect better of our team,” said Iacono. “Our coach called us out and we answered with a bang.”
Reid Sturos led Nanaimo with two power-play goals on Saturday and Greg Fraser, Michael McNicholas and Mason Mitchell also scored. Argue got the shutout as his team outshot the Bulldogs 28-26.
On Friday it was Sturos and Luke Gordon with the goals. Argue went the distance in the loss as Nanaimo outshot Alberni 37-33.
So the Clippers (6-4-0-1) bounced from rock bottom to become world beaters by the end of the weekend.
“Our confidence is at an all-time high right now, which is good, and everyone’s positive in the room,” Iacono said. “We’re going to keep carrying the momentum forward.”
GAME ON … The Clippers play home games Friday (Oct. 19) and Saturday, playing the Chilliwack Chiefs and Victoria Grizzlies, respectively, in 7 p.m. faceoffs at Frank Crane Arena. For ticket information, please call 250-751-0593.