Nanaimo Clippers forward Vincent Millette whacks at a puck in the pads of Surrey Eagles goaltender Marc Audet on Saturday at Frank Crane Arena.

Clippers ready for their close-up

Junior A hockey team heading to B.C. Hockey League Showcase in Chilliwack to face Vernon and Salmon Arm.

The Nanaimo Clippers won’t be playing in front of their home fans, but they’ll be playing in front of interested spectators, nonetheless.

The Shipmen and the rest of the B.C. Hockey League teams are gathering in Chilliwack this week for the annual BCHL Showcase event. According to the league, there will be more than 150 scouts attending from the college and professional ranks.

“It’s a different feel, but it shouldn’t be,” said Spencer Hewson, Clippers captain.”At the end of the day, it’s still a regular game, it’s just worth two points in the league. There’s obviously more eyes there, so guys want to impress, but you just have to play the same game and focus on what’s inside the glass and not what’s going on outside of it.

“You’re not going to play well if you’re not focused on what’s right in front of you, and that’s the game.”

Ben Solin, a Clippers forward who has already secured an NCAA scholarship, said players are aware they might be scouted, but said the team isn’t placing any extra emphasis on the showcase games.

“We have a lot of really good, talented guys on the team who are uncommitted and things are definitely going to fall into place for them,” he said. “But for now, I think that where our head’s at is four points and we’re looking to get those four points.”

The Clippers take on the Vernon Vipers on Friday (Sept. 23) and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday.

Hewson, who is from Vernon, is always excited to play the Vipers, but said the Clippers don’t really know much about any opponents they face at this time of year.

“This early in the season, it really doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” he said. “As long as you play your system and make sure you go through your checklist of what you need to get done, at the end of the day, you should come out with the result you’re looking for.”

Solin said the Clippers want to be tough to play against and feared, and bring hitting and a hard forecheck into every game.

“I think that just comes out with the first shift of the first period of the first game,” he said. “We come out, we set the tone and we take it to Vernon, really take the tone to them.”

GAME ON … The Clippers play the Vipers on Friday at 1 p.m. and then face the Silverbacks on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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