The Nanaimo Clippers, still perfect in the post-season, have the edge in their series against the Langley Rivermen.
The Clippers defeated the Rivermen 3-0 in Game 2 of the B.C. Hockey League’s Coastal finals on Saturday, April 30, at Frank Crane Arena, and lead the best-of-seven series two games to none.
Nanaimo’s goalie Cooper Black made 26 saves for his third-straight shutout, Jake Hewitt scored twice and Sean Donaldson added his league-leading 10th goal of the post-season.
“We knew it was going to be a different look than our last two opponents and we were prepped and we were ready,” said Colin Birkas, Clippers coach. “[But] you can be ready all you want – it’s readiness combined with execution and I thought we did a good job executing our game plan tonight and the moments that we deviated from it were very few and far between.”
Hewitt said after his goal early in the first period, the Clippers didn’t necessarily think a one-goal lead was enough, but “we’ve got to protect that while we can, so we kept protecting. We trust Coop in net so we just played our systems, shut down and it worked out for us.”
Birkas said he liked the way his assistant coaches were continuing to roll forward lines and defence pairings as the game wore on.
“[The Rivermen] were shortening their bench pretty quick and I get it, they’re getting their skilled guys out to get back in the game, but we were deploying everybody,” Birkas said.
Black, chosen first star for a third straight game, now has a shutout streak of more than 230 minutes and counting.
“You can’t think like he’s going to bail us out every night, but you’ve just got to stay strong in front of him and know he’ll make the saves that he has to make,” Hewitt said.
Birkas said as the series moves to the Fraser Valley, the Clippers won’t overthink things and will continue to try to eliminate mistakes and fine tune. Hewitt said heading out on the road won’t change too much for his team.
“They’re not going to want to go down 3-0,” he said. “If it was in our barn or their barn, they’re going to come out hard and we’ve just got to match that and come out even harder.”
GAME ON … Game 3 and 4 are in Langley on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 3-4. Game 5, if necessary, would be back in Nanaimo on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.