Clippers pushing as playoffs near

The Nanaimo Clippers visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Wednesday (Feb. 5) and host the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday.

The Nanaimo Clippers are in a reasonably comfortable spot in the standings right now. They’re a ways back of the division leaders, but they’re well ahead of the bottom teams.

The Clips could still move up or down, but the real focus right now is trying to keep playing good, winning hockey as the B.C. Hockey League playoffs approach.

“You want to know where you sit in the standings, but I think right now if we just keep playing our game and just worry about each game, the points will [take care] of themselves,” said Luke Sandler, Clippers forward.

Scott Prier, team captain, said the Clippers’ position in the standings is important, in a way.

“It is and it isn’t,” he said. “We’re just trying to get better as a team and I don’t think it matters who we play in playoffs first round, second round, whatever. We’re going to be ready to go.”

The standings only show so much, because teams have been piling up points since September and a lot has changed during that time. The Clippers, for instance, have gotten better, won three in a row, and think they’re playing to their potential.

“It is our best hockey. I think we’re peaking at the right time, right before playoffs,” Prier said.

The team has all facets of the game working.

“Our goaltending right now, they’re very strong, our D corps is down a guy but they’ve been very good with just five and I think all four lines right now are finding some chemistry and getting going,” Sandler said.

Playing that sort of well-rounded hockey has helped the Clippers beat the Island Division’s top two teams the last two weeks. Now the Shipmen face two teams they’re ahead of, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

“They’re behind us but you can’t take them lightly…” said Sandler. “We’ve just got to play our game, play simple and just really take control of the game from the drop of the puck.”

GAME ON … The Clippers visit the Bulldogs tonight (Feb. 6) at 7 p.m. at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena, host the Capitals on Friday (Feb. 7) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, then play a rematch with the Caps next Wednesday, also a 7 p.m. start at Frank Crane.

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