The Nanaimo Clippers will travel down the Malahat Friday (Nov. 30) with an opportunity to not only try to even the season series up with the Victoria Grizzlies, but to hijack first place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division from their Island rivals.
But Clips coach and GM Mike Vandekamp said keeping his players on task and focused on their individual responsibilities remains the priority after an inconsistent month, not snatching first place.
“We don’t have the standings up on the wall in the dressing room, they’re not something we’re worried about right now,” said Vandekamp Tuesday during a team practice. “And the last time I looked they don’t hand out trophies for first place in November.”
Victoria (15-7-0-2) has the season edge two games to one over Nanaimo (14-9-0-2). Both teams are coming off a loss – Nanaimo lost 5-2 to the Powell River Kings Nov. 24 while the Grizz coughed up a fur ball in a 3-2 overtime loss to Alberni Valley the same night.
Vandekamp said working for consistency is the team’s focus heading into December.
“We weren’t good enough Saturday and we have to bounce back from that game and get back on track. We’ve been win-one-lose-one for the last half a dozen after getting on a good roll,” he said. “The point is that our players need to realize that the expectations are higher on our team this year and we have to be a more consistent team. We weren’t happy with our most recent effort.”
While the Clips are keen to look for their own spot at the top of the standings, the team is also acutely aware that a couple of mind gaps could also have them hovering just above the cellar in the ultra-tight division as all four teams mentioned are just five points apart in the BCHL standings.
With the trade deadline looming, the Clips’ coach hinted that some player movement could be imminent.
“We’ve had a pretty good season, but pretty good isn’t what we set out to do this year,” said Vandekamp.
GAME ON … The Clippers (14-9-0-2) host the Powell River Kings (12-13-0-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Former Clipper Blair Lefebvre will be recognized before puck drop as part of the team’s 40th anniversary celebration.