The Nanaimo Clippers needed overtime to get an edge in their first-round series.
The Clips beat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-2 in Game 3 on Tuesday night at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena.
Yanni Kaldis was the hero, as he was left alone, skated into the slot, got a pass and scored the game-winner with six minutes to go in the first OT frame.
“I saw their whole team was looking at the puck, so I snuck in, I yelled at [Matt Hoover] and Hoovs heard me and he put it in front and I just put it on net and thankfully it went in,” Kaldis said.
The Clippers had scored the first two goals of the game in the first period, as Kaldis opened the scoring with an unassisted marker and then Devin Brosseau tipped in a Kaldis point shot.
The Bulldogs narrowed the margin later in the frame as Tristan Bukovec scored. There was no further scoring until midway through the third, when the ‘Dogs began to carry the play and were rewarded with a tying goal from Rhett Willcox.
Overtime was back-and-forth until the Clippers dominated a series of shifts leading up to the goal.
“We started to simplify our game, but made hard plays and that’s all we had to do…” said Blake Clement, Clippers assistant coach. “We were just winning little battles all over the ice, keeping the puck in their end, getting faceoffs in their end and eventually, if you keep them down there for long enough, you’re going to get rewarded.”
He said the Clippers don’t talk about playing the hero going into overtime, believing that the best team game will win the day.
“We often say in the room, the team’s going to be the hero, so it’s a team effort,” said Devin Brosseau, team captain. “A lot of the talk going into OT is playing simple, every shot’s a good shot.”
The Bulldogs outshot the Clippers 45-33 with Evan Johnson earning the win and Brody Claeys suffering the loss.
Having beaten the Bulldogs twice in the series now, the Clippers know what it takes, and know it isn’t easy.
“They never quit no matter what, so we’ve got to have our best game tomorrow because we can expect their best,” Clement said.
GAME ON … The teams play Game 4 on Wednesday (March 9) at 7 p.m. at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena. Game 5 will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.