The Nanaimo Clippers got some positive reinforcement for their efforts.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team won 2-0 against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday afternoon after losing 4-3 to the Langley Rivermen on Friday. Both weekend games were at Frank Crane Arena.
On Sunday the Shipmen felt like they came up with that elusive 60-minute game. Perfect penalty killing and good team defence allowed the Clips to post their first shutout of the season.
“I’m very happy with that,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We’ve been working so hard on our defensive game.”
Starting goaltender Billy Faust said the Clippers played how they practised.
“I knew once we started following the systems and doing what we needed to do, that we were going to be defensively sound and [Sunday] was a perfect example of that,” said Faust.
The Clippers had to kill off nine Chiefs power plays in the game. Vandekamp said his penalty killers won faceoffs and got in shooting lanes, but said their success was mostly due to effort.
“We battled hard, we won the battles in the corners and we dumped the puck down,” said Faust. “And the few times they got shots, everyone was cleared from the front of the net.”
Kyle Kramer’s goal midway through the game stood up as the winner, and Tanner Clarkson deked around Chiefs netminder Mitch Gillam and scored early in the third to provide insurance.
Faust finished with 30 saves to earn both first-star honours and the shutout.
“I saw everything and that’s what I like. I like to be able to see the shots,” he said. “By them moving all the guys out of the way and letting me see ’em it was extremely easy. That’s a team shutout right there.”
On Friday, the Clips built up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Andrew Gladiuk and Graeme McCormack, but gave up three goals to the Rivermen in the second period.
Trevor Fitzgerald tied the game back up early in the third, but the visitors scored the game-winner with six and a half minutes left.
Faust suffered the loss in that one with 20 saves as the Clippers outshot the Rivermen 43-24.
“We’ve been finding a way to screw up some games here a little bit even though we’ve played well,” Vandekamp said. “I thought we played pretty well on Friday night too, we just made a couple mistakes and kind of fell asleep and lost our focus a little bit.”
Ending the weekend with a win, however, and doing so many things right along the way, will be a good step, said the coach.
“We finally have something that we can build on.”
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday (Oct. 28) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.