The Nanaimo Clippers had to beat the odds to come out with a win on opening night.
The Shipmen defeated the Powell River Kings 4-3 on the road Saturday night to begin the B.C. Hockey League season.
Facing the two-time reigning Coastal Conference champions, the Clippers battled, and even with a short bench managed to secure the two points. Kyle Kramer’s goal with 3:33 remaining stood up as the game winner.
“It was a nice, greasy road win,” Kramer said. “We really put it on the line there. We were down to 10 forwards, four D-men at the end there so we definitely emptied our tanks.”
Goaltender Charles-Andre Pelletier was excellent for the Clippers, finishing with 45 saves as the Kings peppered him with 16 shots in each period. He made a number of difficult stops in the first period as his teammates exhibited opening-night nerves.
“Maybe the next game we will be less nervous, we’re going to be more confident,” Pelletier said.
Five minutes into the second period, defenceman Sam Labrecque scored the first goal of the season from the top of the circle after the line of Gerry, Myles and Leo Fitzgerald created a turnover in the attacking zone.
Powell River responded when Matt Garbowsky was given too much space, but Nanaimo restored its lead five minutes later when Leo converted the rebound of a Mike Puddifant point shot.
Five minutes after that, Brayden Jaw finished off a two-on-one rush with Kramer, but the Kings scored a power-play goal 30 seconds later to get back to within one.
Powell River tied it early in the third with another power-play goal, setting up the late-game drama. Kramer’s goal, off a rebound of Mike Domsodi’s shot, came against the run of play. A couple more big saves by Pelletier late sealed the win.
“We did a lot of really good things tonight with our strategies we’ve been working on…” said Bill Bestwick, Clippers coach, after the game. “Everybody got a good opportunity tonight and a good first taste of what the season’s going to be all about.”
ICE CHIPS … Final shots were 48-31 for the home team … The Kings were 3-for-6 on the power play; the Clippers, 0-for-3 … Forward Brett Hartskamp suffered a hand injury in the first period and did not return … The next game for the Clippers is their home opener Friday (Sept. 17) when the Surrey Eagles visit Frank Crane Arena for a 7:10 p.m. start.