Clippers return refreshed

The new year brings a fresh sheet of ice and it also brings a whole bunch of possibilities for the Nanaimo Clippers.

The new year brings a fresh sheet of ice and it also brings a whole bunch of possibilities for the Nanaimo Clippers.

The city’s B.C. Hockey League team skates into 2013 this weekend with a full slate of games – three in three days. The Clips take on the Victoria Grizzlies on the road Friday (Jan. 4), then host the Powell River Kings Saturday and the Prince George Spruce Kings on Sunday. It’s a lot of hockey, but the Clips had plenty of opportunities to get rested and refreshed over the holidays.

“It’s always good to have a break like that to get away from hockey, kind of regroup and come back ready to go again, come back excited,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, team captain. “At the same time, everyone’s got the same advantage, every team had a break. We’re going to come back and come out hard.”

The Clippers (17-13-0-2)did that in their return to BCHL action Friday in Victoria, outscoring the Grizz 6-4. It helped them close the books on 2012 with a positive as they look to reach higher in 2013.

“We have to have a better second half than the first,” said Jayson Argue, Clippers goalie. “We’re not going on big tears. All these tough games and this competitiveness is getting us ready for playoffs, but clearly we want to win some more games in the second half.”

The first part of the schedule was a large enough sample size for the Clippers to understand the fine line between winning and losing games in the BCHL.

“We’re playing our best when we’re playing our game, we’re sticking to our systems, we’re working hard,” Fitzgerald said. “When we’re not playing good it basically comes down to effort, and if not effort, mental focus.”

The team can also be better as a sum of its parts. Next week’s trade deadline is part of that, but players are also looking to make individual improvements to benefit the team.

Fitzgerald said the holiday break was a chance for guys to assess their own games.

“Not even just at the break – all season you’re looking at things that you’ve done wrong. We have lots of one-on-one meetings with [coach Mike Vandekamp], talking about things that we need to work on and areas where we might be struggling, and things that we’re doing right, as well,” he said. “You’re constantly judging your own game and striving to be better.”

ICE CHIPS … Saturday’s game against Powell River is a 7 p.m. faceoff at Frank Crane Arena, while Sunday’s game against P.G. starts at 3 p.m. … In Friday’s win over the Grizzlies, Fitzgerald had two goals and Colton Dahlen, Austin Dick, Taylor Grobowski and Mason Mitchell were the other scorers. New goalie acquisition Derek Dun earned the win as his team was outshot 36-28.