Clippers sweep their way to Island championship

The Nanaimo Clippers beat the Powell River Kings 3-2 in Game 4 to sweep the best-of-seven series, four games to none.

The Nanaimo Clippers swept their way to another Island Division championship.

The Clips came back to beat the Powell River Kings 3-2 in Game 4 Tuesday night at Hap Parker Arena to sweep the best-of-seven series, four games to none. Nanaimo advances to Round 3 of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs where they will await the two other division champions.

Corey Renwick scored the game-winning goal with six and a half minutes left in the third period and then he was on the ice taking a series of faceoffs in the last two minutes after the Kings pulled their goalie to press for a tying goal.

“It was an extremely well-played third period, a lot of determination shown by our players. It was a great moment for our team,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach.

The Clippers’ Nolan Aibel opened the scoring in the first period on a power play, then the Kings took the lead in the second period on goals from Mitchell Hawes and Nick Halagian.

Vandekamp called it the second intermission “defining moment” for his team, trailing 2-1 on the road with momentum in the opponents’ favour.

“We set out to score one in the first 10 [minutes], score another one in the second 10. That was kind of our goal in the third period and we actually ended up executing that,” Vandekamp said.

Aibel tied the game 2-2 four minutes into the third period when he jumped on a loose puck in front of the Kings’ crease. Renwick’s winning goal came after the Clippers got a point shot on net that produced a rebound. Renwick won a battle to get to the loose puck and buried it.

Evan Johnson was the winning goalie, making 41 saves, while Jeff Smith suffered the loss with 33 saves.

“Being pushed into a corner the way we were and having the resiliency to rise up and have the third period that we had against a desperate opponent … Winning was great, but the way we won it made it even more special,” Vandekamp said.

The Clippers are the first division champions to go through to Round 3, and will have at least a week off.

“Which is good, but at the same time you don’t want it to be too long…” Vandekamp said. “You deal with what’s thrown at you. In this case we’ve got a break and we can use it positively if we take care of our bodies and work hard in practice.”

GAME ON … Elsewhere in the BCHL, the Penticton Vees and West Kelowna Warriors are tied at two games apiece in the Interior Division final, while the Chilliwack Chiefs are up three games to one on the Wenatchee Wild in the Mainland Division final … Next action for the Clippers won’t be until Tuesday (March 29) or March 31. They will be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in Round 3, which will be played under a double-round-robin format.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com