The quest for the Cup starts now.
The Western Canada Cup gets underway today (April 27), beginning a nine-day showdown to determine who’s worthy of moving on to nationals.
Local hockey fans have been awaiting this day, and so have the hometown Nanaimo Clippers, who haven’t played a meaningful game in more than a month.
That changes tonight as they take the ice at Frank Crane Arena against the Yorkton Terriers, champions of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp predicts his team will need to “blow some steam off” early in tonight’s tilt.
“I’d like to see us use this energy that we have pent up in as positive a fashion as we can when the puck drops to start the game on Saturday,” he said.
Alongside the energy, he said, there are bound to be a few mistakes, so the Clippers will be trying to keep things simple, especially early on.
The Nanaimo Clippers haven’t had a chance to skate at playoff pace in some time, but they think they’ll be able to handle it when the puck drops tonight.
“That’s the reason we’re practising so hard and practising so much, is so we’re ready for that moment,” said Trevor Fitzgerald, team captain. “If anything, guys are going to have extra energy, extra adrenaline – it’s been awhile since we’ve been on the ice for a game.”
The Terriers have had almost two weeks since their last game. Yorkton’s coach, Trent Cassan, said he likes the idea of starting the tournament against the host team.
“I expect a big crowd and I know that the Clippers will be pretty excited to hit the ice,” he said. “We know that we’re going to play in a tough environment and we’re not going to really have time to adjust to our surroundings because we know that the team we’re playing is going to be coming pretty hard.”
GAME ON … The Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup starts with the Surrey Eagles taking on Brooks Bandits Saturday (April 27) at 2 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The Nanaimo Clippers face off against the Yorkton Terriers Saturday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane.