The first game of the Island final featured some free-wheeling hockey, and the Nanaimo Clippers came out on top.
The Clips doubled up the Powell River Kings 4-2 on Friday at Frank Crane Arena in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
“We created lots of chances offensively…” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “At times we were still a little bit sloppy. We can play sharper and better than that still.”
Nick Gushue scored Nanaimo’s first two goals, opening the scoring on a power play and then scoring off the rush in the second period to make it 2-1.
Powell River tallied early in the third to tie the score, but Nanaimo’s Brendan Taylor responded 30 seconds later on the power play, a goal that stood up as the game winner. Taylor added another beautiful goal, deking out the goalie in tight after Jake Jackson stickhandled around a defender and fed his linemate the puck.
Powell River’s goals were scored by Jacob Pritchard and Mitchell Hawes. Guillaume Decelles made 41 saves for the win while Brett Magnus had 41 saves in defeat.
“It was a slow start the first two periods; there wasn’t too much energy out there from either team,” Gushue said. “But we picked it up in the third and I think that’s what got us the win.”
Both teams finished with a lot of shots and although the Clippers had the better scoring opportunities, they surrendered some odd-man rushes, too.
“Their first line comes out with a lot of speed and a lot of skill,” Gushue said. “We’ve got to keep them off the scoresheet.”
Vandekamp said the Kings have some of the same attributes that the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had in the first round, plus more.
“Powell River brings work ethic and spirit and probably a little bit more depth in the skill department, which makes them a difficult challenge,” he said.
But the Clippers now have the edge in the series.
“It gives us a little bit of confidence going forward here,” said Gushue. “It’s just a start. We’ve got three more games ahead of ourselves here, so we’ve got to worry about the one tomorrow first.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and the Kings face off in Game 2 on Saturday (March 14) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) March 14, 2015