The bounces didn’t go the Nanaimo Clippers’ way in their home opener, but they got another chance to get back on the ice right away, and made good.
The Clippers split their two games in B.C. Hockey League action at Frank Crane Arena on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, losing 6-4 to the Powell River Kings but then winning 3-1 versus the Victoria Grizzlies.
Friday’s home opener was a back-and-forth game, with the Clippers tying things with three minutes to go in the third period only for the Kings to score the game winner a minute later. Saturday’s affair wasn’t as free-wheeling and the Clips rode strong goaltending and defence to secure a win.
Nanaimo defenceman Brett Merner said liked the response he saw from his teammates in the second game of the weekend.
“We came back Saturday and showed what we can bring … it was a really good performance from everybody,” he said.
Willyam Gendron, Kai Daniells and Jake Hewitt scored in Saturday’s win and Shane Shelest made 38 saves as his team was outshot 39-20.
The night before, Charles Tardif, Skyler Cameron, Mike Murtagh and Ethan Mistry scored, Hewitt had three assists and Aidan Campbell tended goal as his team outshot the opposition 45-24.
Nanaimo has won three of its first four to start the BCHL season and Merner said the team is showing it can win any way.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in this league we can’t play with, and whatever they throw at us, I think we’re a pretty adaptable group and I think we’re going to continue to show that,” he said.
The results on the ice are one thing, but Clippers players are also excited about the way they are developing as a team in other aspects.
“I’ve never been a part of a team that’s this close so early on,” said Cameron, and Merner agreed, saying that players feel lucky to be part such a “compatible group” that’s continuing to bond closer together as the season goes along.
Players say they’re dedicated to working hard and know they need to keep buying in to what coaches are asking for.
“They’re just stressing that we’ve got to realize what kind of special group we’ve got here and we’ve got to take advantage of that and come in each week with confidence that we’re going to be the better team on the ice and play that way,” said Merner.
GAME ON … The Clippers have two more home games coming up next weekend, hosting the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena and then taking on the Langley Rivermen on Sunday, Oct. 9, in a 2 p.m. faceoff at the Frank.