The Nanaimo Clippers made the right kind of first impression on their new owners.
The Clips defeated the Powell River Kings 2-1 in overtime on Friday night in B.C. Hockey League action at Frank Crane Arena.
Jake Harris scored the game-winning goal on a power play 1:14 into the first OT frame, roofing a rebound from a difficult angle.
“We really played well tonight,” Harris said. “I thought we worked really hard tonight, it was a hard-working, grindy game. We didn’t get phased at all with that first goal against and I’m really happy that we could pull out the two points.”
The Clippers had numerous chances to win the game in regulation as they played most of the third period in the Kings’ end of the ice.
Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach, said a key to his team’s success was simplicity.
“We wanted to make sure that we were moving pucks quick and simple, getting pucks behind their D and forechecking as hard as we can,” he said. “No matter who you play in this league, I think taking away time and space is key, forcing the other team into some mistakes … We want to be all over them, so to speak, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
Jordan Wharrie scored Nanaimo’s other goal, his first as a Clipper, and Taz Burman stopped 35 shots for the win in goal.
It was the first game for the Clippers since the sale of the franchise was officially announced earlier on Friday. New owners Wes and Penny Mussio were there to watch Friday’s win.
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“It’s their team, but it’s all of our team and that was the big thing that we discussed today, is us just working together to make the team better and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Vandekamp said. “You learn from every experience in life along the way and you learn from others, too, so I go into this with an open mind. I want to prove to Mr. Mussio that I can do a good job and work hard for him and that’s what I intend on doing.”
Harris said the players were aware the new owners were watching.
“We’re really excited for them to be a part of the team, but at the end of the day, our motivation’s inside the room and it doesn’t matter who’s out there, it doesn’t matter if there’s one fan or hundreds of fans, we just want to play for each other and it’s really showing,” he said.
GAME ON … The Clippers visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Weyerhaeuser Arena.