The Nanaimo Clippers used this past weekend’s challenge to decide what kind of team they want to be.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club won three games in three days, edging the Victoria Grizzlies 3-2 on Friday at Frank Crane Arena, then going to the mainland and defeating the Langley Rivermen 4-1 Saturday and the Surrey Eagles 6-3 on Sunday.
“You look at the standings and how tight it is, it was kind of a make-or-break weekend, the kind of weekend where we could either go up and be right with the pack and keep pace, or we stay back at the bottom,” said Michael Olson, Clippers assistant coach.
A strong defensive effort against the usually high-scoring Grizzlies on Friday set a tone. Goalie Billy Faust made 34 saves in a first-star performance and Brett Hartskamp, Luke Gordon and Kyle Kramer scored power-play goals.
Saturday’s win was a more inconsistent effort, but the Clips were better than the Rivermen on special teams as Kramer had a short-handed goal and a power-play goal, Graeme McCormack also tallied on the PP and Hartskamp salted away the win into the empty net. Faust made 22 saves.
On Sunday the Clippers got just the sort of start they needed in their third game of the weekend as Hartskamp, Josh Bryan and Andrew Gladiuk posted the team to a 3-0 first-period lead.
Nanaimo ran into penalty trouble in the second and surrendered a couple of power-play goals to the Eagles, but won the third period with Gladiuk completing a hat trick and Colton Cyr also scoring. Faust again was the winning goalie with 29 stops.
“Our guys were resilient and we found a way and it was a great team-building weekend,” said Olson. “We showed a lot of good signs. We feel comfortable with our game right now.”
GAME ON … The Clippers (7-3-0-3) play the Victoria Grizzlies on Tuesday (Nov. 1) at 7:15 p.m. at Bear Mountain Arena. If Nanaimo wins, the team will be tied for first place in the Coastal Conference … The next home game for the Clippers is Friday (Nov. 4) when the Alberni Valley Bulldogs visit Frank Crane. Faceoff in that one is at 7 p.m.