One would think, after all those goals, that the Nanaimo Clippers’ top line would have mastered the art of the goal celebration. Then again, maybe there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate a 50th goal.
Clippers forward Sheldon Rempal reached the milestone Sunday afternoon in a road game against the Coquitlam Express, one-timing a pass from linemate Devin Brosseau into the top corner of the net.
When Rempal scored, he actually didn’t get as many hugs as usual, at least not at first.
“Three of us went for the puck and kind of left him alone there with Yanni [Kaldis] on the celebration,” said Brosseau.
Then came the fly-by of high-fives along the Clippers bench.
“I kind of grabbed him by the neck and was talking to him and telling him how proud I am of him, and I kind of toe-picked on the ice and we both fell to the ground on top of each other. It was funny; everybody was laughing,” Brosseau said. “As he said, ‘I’m never going to forget that one,’ so I guess that’s a good thing.”
Scoring his 50th brought Rempal both a sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment.
“Coming back for my last year here, I definitely wanted to have a good year,” he said. “It was awesome to see the other guys excited about it. It was just a lot of fun all around.”
Mike Vandekamp, head coach, said all the players and coaches realize what Rempal has done for the Clippers so far this season.
“Sheldon’s been such a big part of our team this year that his teammates were as excited about it as he was…” Vandekamp said. “Everybody was very excited to see him reach that pinnacle.”
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, Rempal told the Bulletin he was targeting 35-40 goals. Exceeding that goal, and now reaching 50, he’s reassessing his potential as a hockey player.
“It’s been a fun ride, but I’ve always had confidence in myself,” he said. “I’m just trying to take whatever’s given to me and go along with it … I’ll stay humble about it and keep going.”
The league and franchise records for goals are out of reach – 105 and 84, respectively – but Rempal said 60 “could be possible,” while acknowledging it will only get harder to score goals the rest of the way.
“We’re focused on the team game here – winning, first place, and getting home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs,” he said.
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Surrey Eagles on Friday (Jan. 22) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, visit the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday and then host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Sunday at 2 p.m.