The Nanaimo Clippers were good enough to compete at Westerns, but they weren’t good enough to advance.
The city’s junior A hockey club saw its season come to an end Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 loss to the Yorkton Terriers at the Western Canada Cup tournament at Frank Crane Arena.
“Obviously we’re disappointed…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We played hard this week and we had a good week here at the tournament. It had its ups and downs, it had a little bit of everything. It was kind of the story of our entire season, all balled up in one week.”
The Clippers’ final game of 2012-13 was one of momentum swings. Nanaimo got a dream start, scoring twice in the first three minutes of the first period on goals from Chris Rygus and Greg Fraser.
But the Terriers got a power play goal midway through the first period, another PP goal early in the second to tie it, and then a go-ahead goal midway through the second. Nanaimo got a power-play goal of its own two minutes later on a point shot from Josh Bryan, and the teams went into the third period tied 3-3.
The Clippers put together a string of good shifts midway through the third period and Fraser, left all alone in the slot, just missed the net. The play went to the other end of the ice and the Terriers were able to bang home the winning goal past Clips goalie Jayson Argue.
“That’s just the way it went,” Vandekamp said. “They came down and threw one at the net from the corner. We had the better chance but they worked hard to get their goal.”
Yorkton followed up three minutes later, scoring on a long wrister from the side boards to take away any real late-game drama.
Shots ended up 41-35 for the Terriers, with their goals coming from Tyler Giebel, Devon McMullen, Dakota Odgers, Kailum Gervais and Jeremy Johnson.
“I don’t think we were quite as consistent as we wanted to be,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, Clippers captain. “A couple breakdowns, but that happens in the game of hockey. We needed to be better, more consistent, more mature.”
Brock Maschmeyer, the Clippers’ player of the game, said afterward that there are no regrets.
“We came out to win and didn’t get the … results I wish we could have,” he said. “I believe we could have taken every single team. It just [depended] whether or not we were going to show up that day.”
Fitzgerald, too, felt his team was right there with the best in Western Canada.
“We played good hockey for the majority of the tournament, but it’s consistency that cost us our season in the end,” he said. “And that’s something that all the other teams that are here have, is consistency. They won championships because of that exact reason.”
So the Clippers’ 40th anniversary season won’t end with a storybook run to the Royal Bank Cup.
“That was a goal we were striving for all year…” Fitzgerald said. “It would have been special, with this group of guys, especially.”
ICE CHIPS … The Surrey Eagles won the Western Canada Cup on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Brooks Bandits. The Bandits will play the Terriers on Sunday (May 5) at 4 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena to determine the second qualifier to the RBC.