Inconsistent play still dogs Clippers

Nanaimo splits home-and-home series with Island rival Port Alberni Bulldogs.

Nanaimo's Brendan Taylor can't quite reach the puck in front of Bulldogs' Ryan Lough in the Alberni Valley end during third period action

The Nanaimo Clippers took two out of a possible four points on the weekend against Island rival Port Alberni Bulldogs, moving the Boatmen into a tie for third place in the B.C. Hockey League Coastal Conference with Powell River.

Nanaimo defeated the Bulldogs 5-2 Friday and fell 6-5 Saturday at Weyerhaeuser Arena.

On Friday in Nanaimo at Frank Crane Arena, the Clips took advantage of power plays early and often, capitalizing on three opportunities in five minutes in the middle of the first frame.

Kyle Kramer scored at 6:37 of the first period to give Nanaimo a 1-0 lead, followed by Tanner Clarkson with a marker just a minute later. Kramer capitalized again with the man advantage at 11:26 to give Nanaimo a 3-0 which was never threatened.

Alberni’s Artsiom Kalashnikov answered with a power play goal at 8:50 of the second period, but Nanaimo’s Luke Gordon responded two minutes later to put the Clips up 4-1 just moments after Clips goalie Billy Faust made a big save off Dylan Nowakowski to turn the momentum of the game.

Jesse Neher gave Nanaimo a 5-1 lead, again on the power play, at 9:47 of the third period.

Nanaimo was 4-for-4 on the night with the man advantage while Faust stopped 36 of 38 shots.

Walker Hyland scored the Bulldogs’ second goal at 14:08 of the third frame.

“It was a good start and we took advantage of an extended power play and that was really the game,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach and GM. “From there we settled in and played well but our penalty kill was pretty solid, too. We had a major we had to kill off ourselves.”

Friday night marked the BCHL’s 50th anniversary featuring $5 tickets. Fans responded by packing 1,528 bodies into the Crane.

The Clips travelled over the hump Saturday to complete the home-and-home series with a good opportunity to steal two more points. Nanaimo entered the game with a 2-0 record at Alberni’s barn so far this season.

“We didn’t get off to a great start in that one,” said Vandekamp. “We dug ourselves a hole early and clawed our way back but it was too little, too late.”

The Bulldogs stepped up this time, taking control with a 4-0 lead at 4:33 of the second period.

Nanaimo made it interesting later in the second period, scoring three straight with goals by Colton Cyr, Graeme McCormack and Andrew Gladiuk, the latter two on the power play.

Both teams traded rapid-fire goals early in the third with three goals in just 1:27, giving the Bulldogs a 6-4 edge. Nanaimo tried to comeback in the third when McCormack scored at 17:24 to make it 6-5.

“We’re still inconsistent overall,” said Vandekamp. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out, is to become a more consistent club but I think the age of our team is a factor. We have a lot of young guys and part of the learning process is to learn how to prepare every day and be ready every day and be the same team every day but we’re still not quite there.”

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