Penticton Vees player Dakota Conroy

Penticton Vees player Dakota Conroy

Clippers will play Vees for championship

The Nanaimo Clippers defeated the Penticton Vees by a 2-0 score Thursday night in BCHL playoff action at Frank Crane Arena.

The Clippers will play for a championship.

The Nanaimo Clippers defeated the Penticton Vees by a 2-0 score Thursday night in B.C. Hockey League playoff action at Frank Crane Arena. The result advances the Shipmen through the round robin and into the finals, where they will meet the Vees in a best-of-seven series.

“It’s an unreal feeling. I don’t think any of us have been this far in the playoffs before and we’re going to the finals,” said Brendan Taylor, Clippers captain. “It was big to get it done tonight and we had a good game as a team tonight, so we’re just really excited.”

Nanaimo had a shaky start, allowing a breakaway just seconds after puck drop, but settled down. Sheldon Rempal opened the scoring late in the first period and the score stayed 1-0 until Yanni Kaldis scored on a point shot on the power play midway through the third period. The Vees pulled their goalie and tried to make a game of it, but couldn’t get any pucks past Guillaume Decelles, who recorded the shutout.

“We stuck to the plan and made things simple, we didn’t get off our game,” Decelles said. “We stayed calm, we were not running around in our zone. We didn’t give them much.”

Mike Vandekamp, Nanaimo coach, said it was a “special game” because of the work the Clippers put in to earn the opportunity that’s now in front of them.

“We played well, it was a good game, it was a good playoff game,” said Vandekamp. “2-0, that’s a great playoff score.”

Fred Harbinson, Penticton coach, said both teams played well Thursday and mentioned that his team hit several posts. He thought his goalie – backup Brendan Barry – and the affiliate players in the lineup showed well.

“We never went into this game with any other intention other than to win the hockey game and that’s how we approach every game, but … you can’t manufacture desperation,” Harbinson said. “You’re either in a desperate situation or you’re not.”

So the round robin ends with the Chilliwack Chiefs having to watch themselves get eliminated on the out-of-town scoreboard. The Clippers and Vees, who each won one game against the other, now reset for a best-of-seven final for the Fred Page Cup.

“We’ve already played a couple times now in this round robin, we’ve played a couple times in the regular season. They’ve all been tight games,” Harbinson said. “Why not maybe seven more?”

The Shipmen, too, are already looking ahead. Decelles said the Clippers deserve to be moving on, and they’re proud they’ve made it this far.

“It means a lot…” he said. “But we’re going to stay in the moment and try to win the cup.”

GAME ON … The Clippers and Vees have more than a week off before Game 1 of the finals, to be played April 10 at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Game 2 is Saturday in Penticton. The series then moves to Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena, for Game 3 on April 13 and Game 4 on April 14.