The Nanaimo Clippers won the weekend’s main event, but came out on the wrong end of their next two games.
The Clips (4-3) played three games in three days in B.C. Hockey League action. They defeated Bill Bestwick’s Victoria Grizzlies 4-2 on Friday night at Frank Crane Arena, lost 5-2 to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on the road Saturday, then lost by another 5-2 score to the Coquitlam Express on Sunday back at Frank Crane.
Friday’s big game attracted 1,523 to the arena, enough that some were still waiting to buy tickets as the former Clippers coach Bestwick was welcomed back over the public address system.
“I was hopeful that it would be respectful and I think it was,” he said.
The game itself was choppy due to a lot of penalties, with the teams trading goals. Spencer Turcotte scored two and a half minutes in on his very first shift with the Nanaimo Clippers, and after the Grizzlies tied it with four minutes left in the period, Kyle Kramer scored on a breakaway to restore his team’s lead.
Grizzlies forward Leo Fitzgerald, a former Clipper, scored on a one-timer in the second period to make it 2-2 with 20 minutes remaining.
“I thought we did a nice job of getting the puck down deep and working the puck down low in their end, which is what we wanted to do against them,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach.
Nanaimo started the third period on the power play with a fresh sheet of ice, and Kramer scored on a point shot through traffic.
“That seemed to set us back on our heels a bit and … that gave Nanaimo some momentum,” Bestwick said.
The Clippers’ Brendan Taylor got a drop pass on an odd-man rush and scored an insurance goal a few minutes later.
Shots ended up 33-33, with Jayson Argue earning the win in net.
Rough start costs Clippers
The next day’s game got away from the Clippers right away, with Alberni scoring three goals – including two power-play tallies – in the first six minutes, chasing Argue.
Greg Fraser scored a second-period goal for Nanaimo and Michael McNicholas added one more in the third. Shots ended up 38-34 in favour of the Shipmen. Nanaimo goalie Jarrod Schamerhorn saw his first action of the season, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced over 54 minutes.
Express chugs past Shipmen
On Sunday the Clippers got behind 3-1 but a late goal in the second period from Trevor Fitzgerald seemed to give his team some momentum to open the third period.
The Clips put together a series of strong shifts early in the third, but then surrendered an odd-man opportunity and the Express capitalized.
“We gave them the chance,” Vandekamp said. “We need to stay the course and do things right. We throw the puck backwards in the offensive end and gave them a four-on-two, it’s off the page of what we wanted to do. We would have tied the hockey game, guaranteed.”
Instead, the Express added another power-play goal, their third of the game, to round out the scoring.
Josh Bryan was Nanaimo’s other goal scorer and Argue took the loss as his team outshot the opposition 40-31.
GAME ON … The Clippers’ next game isn’t until Sunday (Oct. 7), when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a 3 p.m. faceoff at Frank Crane Arena.