The Nanaimo Clippers have their skating legs going through the first part of the pre-season.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals for the second time in exhibition action, this time by a 4-1 score, Wednesday night at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
“I thought that there was some high points and I thought that there was a few lower points,” said Bill Bestwick, Clippers coach. “But … I wasn’t disappointed with any of the guys that were in uniform tonight. I thought they all acquitted themselves well.”
Dealing with a spate of injuries, the Clippers dressed a lineup that resembled what the team will look like in the regular season, and the veterans and rookies alike brought a lot of energy to opening faceoff.
“We came out strong in the first period,” said Sam Labrecque, rookie defenceman. “We were all over the place, great forecheck and great transition game, too. It was pretty good pace.”
Nanaimo wasted no time hitting the scoreboard, as Dominic Savoie fired a wrister into the back of the net from the top of the circle just over a minute in.
In the second period, the Capitals tied it but the Clippers regained the lead when Brett Hartskamp scored with eight seconds left in the frame.
In the third period, Labrecque got a goal on a slapshot from the point on a 5-on-3 power play, then Yannick LaFlamme rounded out the scoring by finishing off a two-on-one rush.
Final shots were 32-17 for the Clippers, with Charles Premont the goalie of record after relieving Charles Pelletier midway through the second.
The game included some big hits and a fight, as Nick Bell and Cowichan’s Dillon Houghton punched their way to a lengthy draw.
“It’s important to have a game with great intensity to set the tone for the real season and get into game shape,” Labrecque said. “You’ve got to think faster and make plays faster.”
There are things to work on – Bestwick wants to see more consistency, and he hopes players will make better decisions as far as positional play.
“Sometimes less is more. Sometimes patience is important,” said the coach. “To teach guys patience when you’re always trying to tell them to get going faster is difficult.”
ICE CHIPS … After the game, the Clippers released Premont and forward Mason Malkowich … Myles Fitzgerald left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury that is not believed to be serious … Nanaimo plays its third pre-season game Friday (Sept. 3) at the NIC, hosting the Victoria Grizzlies at 7:10 p.m., then faces the Grizz the next day in Esquimalt.