The Nanaimo Clippers were a minute away from a perfect road trip.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team won two out of three games on the Lower Mainland this past weekend and were close to three out of three.
The Clips started with a 3-1 win over the Surrey Eagles on Friday, then got past the Langley Rivermen 3-2 in overtime the next night before falling 4-3 to the Coquitlam Express on Sunday afternoon.
“We played pretty good hockey this weekend and kind of feel a little bit shorted…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We should have taken more points out of the weekend, but we’ll live and learn from the experience and I know we’re a better team after the weekend than we were before.”
In the game against the Express, the Shipmen led the BCHL’s defending champions 3-2 with two and a half minutes left, but the home team tied it up and then scored the game-winning goal with 30 seconds to go.
It was an unfortunate sequence of events to end the game for the Clippers.
“We actually had two really good shifts after [the tying goal], we actually almost took the lead ourselves,” said the coach.
Then on the game-winner, the Clippers were expecting an icing call, but it was waved off and the Express pounced.
“They pushed the puck to the net and managed to get some traffic and sort of jammed one in on us,” Vandekamp said.
Nicolas Carrier, Jake Wozney and Jake Jackson scored for Nanaimo and Guillaume Decelles made 39 saves as shots were 43-39.
Vandekamp said his team was pretty solid and controlled most of the play in the game, but his top four defencemen played too many minutes and were worn down at the end of a busy weekend.
“Fatigue was setting in a little bit and I didn’t think our forwards did a good enough job of recognizing that and maybe juet getting a few more pucks deep and really trying to hem them in their end a little bit more and take the pressure off of our D.”
At Langley, Sheldon Rempal scored the winning goal with 20 seconds left in double overtime as he threw the puck toward the goal on a rush and it deflected off an opposing defender and into the net. Brendan Taylor and Ryan Forbes also scored and Decelles was first star with 31 saves.
Against Surrey, Rempal, Yanni Kaldis and Jackson scored and Decelles was first star with 31 stops
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Oct. 10) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The next day the team is visiting the Victoria Grizzlies and there is a fan bus being organized. For more information, please visit www.nanaimoclippers.com.