The Nanaimo Clippers returned to their winning ways in overwhelming fashion.
The Clips hammered the Merritt Centennials by a 7-0 score Sunday at Frank Crane Arena.
Leading the way was Clippers veteran Josh Bourne, who scored four goals. He scored a natural hat trick to start the game, giving his team a first-period lead with a breakaway goal, then adding two more in the second and another in the third. The longest-tenured Clipper is now at 19 goals on the year, second on the team and third best in the league.
“From the first time he ever played a game here, the fans took to him and it’s nice to see him come out and have a game like that,” said Darren Naylor, Clippers coach. “It’s good for him. He’s such a nice kid and a real catalyst on our team.”
It was just the second game since Bourne had been reunited with linemates Ethan Scardina and Kyler Kovich who had been away at a national program camp leading up to the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
“Having my linemates back from Canada West camp, I can’t say enough good things about those guys,” Bourne said. “I get open and they give me the puck.”
He appreciated how the fans were excited to share in his big game.
“All the support that these fans give us, it’s amazing to play here. This is where we want to be,” Bourne said.
Devon Mussio, Robby Drazner and Liam Ryan were other scorers and Jordan Naylor made 29 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, tying him for first in the league in that category.
The win bumped the Clippers back up to first place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division after they’d slipped with back-to-back losses.
“We had a couple of bad games and didn’t get the results we wanted,” Darren Naylor said. “It’s good to come back and have a game like that. It’s good in a lot of ways – good for the guys, gives them some confidence back.”
The Clippers have two more games left before the Christmas break, a home-and-home set against the Victoria Grizzlies. The coach said keeping focus at this time of year can be a challenge.
“It definitely is, we’ve found that a little bit, but now with two games left, and after Victoria beat us a couple in a row, we’re going to be fired up,” he said.
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Grizzlies on Friday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena in the last home game of 2019. The Clips and Grizz will play a rematch Saturday, Dec. 21, in Victoria to close out the pre-Christmas schedule.
Nanaimo Clippers goalie Jordan Naylor stopped 29 shots for his 4th shutout of the season, tying him for the league lead… pic.twitter.com/xi68E9itpo
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) December 16, 2019