Empty-net goals tend to be underrated.
Perhaps it doesn’t take a high degree of difficulty for junior A hockey players to flip a puck into a yawning cage. But it does mean that just before that, they were on the ice in a key situation, protecting a one-goal lead in the last minute of the game.
Greg Trichilo was wrapping up his very first weekend with the Nanaimo Clippers on Sunday, and there he was on the ice with 50 seconds left, tasked with helping the team hang on to a 3-2 lead over the toughest opponent in the B.C. Hockey League, the Penticton Vees.
The Clippers got the puck out of their zone, Kyle Kramer got the puck to Trichilo, and the newcomer tallied the empty-netter.
“I was excited that [coach Mike Vandekamp] would use me in a situation like that and he can trust me,” said Trichilo. “That was pretty cool and I was pretty happy to be out there. And to get my first goal here was pretty special.”
He might not have been too familiar with the Clippers’ systems yet, so he just went out there and played the way he knows how.
“You’ve just got to use what you’ve known already,” said the 20-year-old from Schreiber, Ont. “I’ve got a lot of junior experience and I just used what I knew and worked hard.”
Trichilo has played junior hockey since he was 16. He played a season and a half of major junior with the Sudbury Wolves, and played junior A last season with the Kingston Voyageurs, scoring 19 goals and 46 points in 44 games.
Trichilo considers himself a power forward.
“I’m one of the stronger guys, I like to use my body and I like to use my speed … and crash the net and see what happens,” he said.
Vandekamp said he’s been aware of Trichilo since last season.
“He’s big, strong, a good skater, great as a kid. He fits into the mould of what our team’s built on.”
He’ll be a “piece of the puzzle,” said Vandekamp – a key piece, if he’s out there in crunch time.
“I’m here to help the team win and I’m here for all the boys,” Trichilo said.
GAME ON … The Clippers play the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday (Oct. 19) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, then host the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday, also a 7 p.m. faceoff. For game previews, please check back at Clippers Central on Thursday (Oct. 18) and Saturday, respectively.