The Nanaimo Clippers clamped down defensively on the weekend. They showed late-game desire. But it wasn’t quite enough to earn a win on the first weekend of the season.
The city’s junior A hockey club began the 2011-12 B.C. Hockey League regular season with a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Powell River Kings on Friday, then dropped the rematch 3-1 on Saturday. Both games were played on the road.
“There’s still a mindset change that we have to go through,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We’re still needing to believe in ourselves more, learn to win and that’s part of the process.”
In the season opener, the visitors were able to stay within striking distance in a tightly played contest. They trailed 2-0 with two minutes left, though they had been aggressively forechecking all period and gaining the territorial advantage.
Finally the Clippers scored their first goal of the season when defenceman David Iacono joined the rush and scored with a minute and a half remaining. With the goalie pulled, Trevor Fitzgerald was able to score the equalizer with 30 seconds left.
The home team regained the edge in overtime and eventually won the game in double OT.
“We showed some real good resilience with that late comeback,” said Vandekamp. “[Saturday’s] game was very similar, we just didn’t quite get that bounce at the end.”
Josh Bryan scored Nanaimo’s only goal midway through Saturday’s game to make it 1-1 but Powell River scored shorthanded goals in both the second and third periods.
Overall, Nanaimo’s power play was 0-for-13 on the weekend.
“We’ve got to simplify things there a little bit, and I thought we could show a little bit more intensity on the power play, too,” Vandekamp said.
Goalie Billy Faust played both games for Nanaimo. The Kings outshot the Clips 31-27 on Friday, then 27-23 the next night.
GAME ON … The Clippers’ next game is their home opener on Friday (Sept. 30) when the Cowichan Valley Capitals visit Frank Crane Arena for a 7 p.m. game. Tickets will be available at the door.