The Nanaimo Clippers controlled the game and steered themselves to a two-games-to-none series lead.
The Clips defeated the Powell River Kings 5-2 in BCHL playoff action Saturday night at Frank Crane Arena.
Just like Game 1, Nanaimo never trailed in Game 2. Twice the Powell River Kings closed the gap to one goal, but both times the Shipmen wrested back control of the play soon afterward.
“That’s been a major focus for us and a really big discussion item, is learning to swing momentum back in our favour,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We feel like we have momentum right now and it takes more than one shift to get momentum back away from us. So if you have one good shift, even if it’s a goal, then we’ve got to grab that next shift and we’ve got to turn it back around.”
Chris Dodero and Matt Hoover scored for Nanaimo in the first period. Rylan Ball responded early in the second period for Powell River, but Yanni Kaldis restored his team’s lead four minutes later. Kyle Betts again got his team within one midway through the frame, then Nanaimo’s Sheldon Rempal got alone in front and roofed a backhander late in the period.
The Clippers were efficient in the third and iced the win on an empty-net marker by Devin Brosseau.
Evan Johnson made 24 saves for the win and Jeff Smith stopped 29 pucks in defeat.
Rempal said the Clippers did the little things right and won thanks to different facets of their game, from the penalty kill, to their defensive efforts, to finding ways to score on the opposing goalie.
“We just want to make it tough around him, get some traffic and luckily we’ve been making some good plays and getting a few past him,” Rempal said.
He said the two-games-to-none lead is huge for his team, but said his team will now need to adapt as the series moves to Powell River.
“It’s just being more aware. They’re good on their matchups, so it’s just taking those matchups and working with that…” Rempal said. “It’s just getting used to it. And hopefully we can keep this going.”
Vandekamp said in some ways the road trip will be good for his team, which, due to a quirk of the schedule, hasn’t had to take a ferry on a road trip since mid-January.
“Our toughest test in the playoffs lies ahead, because of where we’re going and we’re playing a tough team that plays very well in their own arena…” the coach said. “That’s going to be a really fun challenge.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Kings face off Monday (March 21) and Tuesday, both 7 p.m. starts at Powell River’s Hap Parker Arena. Game 5, if necessary, would be back at Frank Crane Arena at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) March 20, 2016