New Clippers goalie gets his chance

Guillaume Decelles has worked hard his whole junior hockey career, making sure that when his chance came, he’d be ready.

Nanaimo Clippers goalie Guillaume Decelles sends Langley Rivermen opponent Evan Anderson flying during Saturday’s game at the Langley Events Centre. Decelles was first star as the Clips won 3-2 in overtime.

Guillaume Decelles has worked hard his whole junior hockey career, making sure that when his chance came, he’d be ready.

Now, in his final year of junior and his first in the B.C. Hockey League, Decelles is getting that chance to be a No. 1 goalie.

“I’ve waited for that since a long time…” he said. “It was hard to get a No. 1 spot.”

The 6-foot-3, 200 pounder from Joliette, Que., comes to the Nanaimo Clippers from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Victoriaville Tigres, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and backed up NHL-bound netminders. Decelles learned from his peers and was always prepared to play.

“You have to compete every single practice, because they’re going to get a new goalie if you’re not doing the job,” he said. “It’s hard on you mentally, but at the same time it got me stronger mentally.”

Going into his 20-year-old season, Decelles started thinking about junior A as a Plan B, but as training camp approached, he started liking the idea of coming to Nanaimo and being a leader.

The season got off to an inauspicious start, a 6-4 loss, but the butterfly goalie is starting to adjust to BCHL hockey.

“I’m getting used to it,” he said. “The beginning was a bit rough, but I’m getting way better and more comfy every game.”

He said his team is playing with more composure in front of him, though the stats show he’s faced 39 shots per game in his first six starts, going 4-2.

“I feel better when I have more pucks coming at me,” he said. “You’re more alert and you need to be prepared on every single shot, so it keeps you in the game.”

He played every minute of a three-game road trip this past weekend, earning two wins and being chosen BCHL Player of the Week. Mike Vandekamp, coach of the Clippers, said Decelles was steady and was at his best in overtime.

“Three-on-three is breakaways all the time, two-on-ones. You have to make a big stop,” Decelles said. “I think it’s the part I like the most.”

Or maybe the best part is yet to come. The goalie has seen the Clippers get better every day, and is sure they have a chance to be a contender. Some of that, of course, will depend on Decelles, a starter at last, and one who’s showing that he’s earned this opportunity.

“I want to give us a chance to win every game,” he said. “This is why I’m here.”

GAME ON … The Clippers host the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Oct. 10) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.

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