It was one of those weekends when the Nanaimo Clippers needed to prove they were a playoff-calibre team, or else fall back of the pack.
They decided to go out and get a couple of big wins.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club defeated the Surrey Eagles 3-2 in overtime on Friday night, then edged the Merritt Centennials 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. Both games were played at Frank Crane Arena.
The Eagles are the second-place team in the Coastal Conference and the Cents are second in the Interior Conference.
“It really shows that we can play with any team in the league and hopefully we’ll just keep building from here,” said Dan Correale, who scored three times on the weekend.
The Friday night game was the more complete effort for the Clippers, as they nearly doubled the visitors in shots on goal, 39-21.
Kyle Kramer and Correale scored in regulation and then just a minute and a half into OT, Kramer got his stick on a Josh Phillips shot.
“I just closed my eyes and swung at the puck and I hit it and it went in, so no complaints there…” said Kramer. “We were more intense in the overtime and that showed.”
Billy Faust made 19 saves for the win in that one.
In Sunday’s matinee game, a good start was key for the Clips as they built a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Correale and Brendan Taylor, then held on.
“Their team worked really hard and we outplayed them for a while there and we kind of let up a bit and we had some mental lapses and it almost cost us,” Correale said. “It was a little too close for us but we’ll take the win.”
The Clips had some concerns about being outshot 46-36 and know that Faust’s strong game was a major factor.
“They had quite a few Grade A scoring chances that Billy stood on his head for us,” Kramer said. “That’s definitely a concern going into next game but at the same time we can’t take away from a big win like this.”
GAME ON … The Clippers visit the Langley Rivermen on Wednesday (Jan. 25) and then return home to Frank Crane Arena on Friday to play the Cowichan Valley Capitals in a 7 p.m. faceoff.