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Nanaimo Clippers set for BCHL playoffs

Clippers will face Victoria Grizzlies in first round
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Chilliwack Chiefs goalie Vladimir Nikitin keeps his eye on the play as Nanaimo Clippers player Emmett McHardy swipes the puck to a teammate and Chase Hull closes in. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

The Nanaimo Clippers have battled all the way through the B.C. Hockey League’s regular season and are now embarking on the post-season.

The Clippers will face the Victoria Grizzlies in a best-of-seven first-round playoff series starting Friday, April 5, on the road.

The Clippers won one and lost one on the last weekend of the reguar season, beating the Langley Rivermen by a 4-3 score in overtime on Friday, March 29, at Frank Crane Arena, then losing 3-2 to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday, March 30, also at Frank Crane.

The results didn’t end up mattering much, as on the out-of-town scoreboard, the Grizzlies won their last two games of the season against the Coquitlam Express to secure home-ice advantage in the first round against the Clippers.

In Nanaimo’s win against the Rivermen, Brett Merner scored the game-winning goal in overtime and Luke Buss, Dylan Kinch and Gabriel Westling also scored. Chazz Nixon stopped 40 of 43 shots for the win.

In the loss, Kinch and Buss scored and Nixon left the game due to injury and was relieved by Tyler Hodges.

The Clippers finish the 2023-24 regular season with a 27-23-3-1 record, while the Grizzlies end with a 29-22-1-2 record. Nanaimo is led by top scorer Mike Murtagh, who had 63 points this season, and top goal scorer Buss who finished with 29 goals. For Victoria, Chase Pirtle was top scorer this season with 25 goals and 51 points.

GAME ON … The series will start Friday, April 5, at the Q Centre, and continue Saturday, April 6, also in Victoria. Game 3 and 4 will be in Nanaimo on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 9-10, with both games starting at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. For Clippers playoff ticket information, visit www.nanaimoclippers.com.