Nanaimo Clippers forward Cole Maier looks to make a play during the third period of Monday's game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at Frank Crane Arena.

Nanaimo Clippers forward Cole Maier looks to make a play during the third period of Monday's game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at Frank Crane Arena.

Playoff series getting closer

The Nanaimo Clippers were edged 2-1 by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Monday night at Frank Crane Arena.

The Clippers’ playoff series is getting closer and closer.

The Nanaimo Clippers were edged 2-1 by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Monday night at Frank Crane Arena. The Shipmen still lead the best-of-seven series three games to two and Game 6 is tonight (March 10) at Port Alberni.

Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach, said his team made mistakes at key times in Game 5.

“Poor management of the game…” he said. “You’ve got to play to not let in goals and do things right all the time. You can’t rely on scoring your way to victory all the time. Your team game’s got to be solid.”

All the scoring took place in the second period. Alberni’s Garrett Halls opened the scoring and Nanaimo defenceman Yanni Kaldis, in his first game back from injury, got free to score a tying goal midway through the frame. The Bulldogs’ Everett Putz broke the tie in the final minute of the period.

Nanaimo had a strong third period, generating several good scoring chances on Billy Christopoulos, but Halls and Alberni’s D didn’t allow many second chances.

“Their goalie made some good saves at the end; we missed on some chances but you can’t be relying on that,” Vandekamp said.

The coach didn’t think there was any carry-over effect from Game 4, in which the Clips blew a late lead and lost in overtime.

“I think it maybe gave them some life, which is what we didn’t want to do,” said Brendan Taylor, Clippers captain. “But we were excited to play [last night] and we wanted to close it out and we were ready to go, but we just didn’t execute on the ice.”

Vandekamp said his team will win tonight’s Game 6 if it stays committed to having good habits every shift, all night long. He hopes his team plays desperate hockey.

“We know they’re going to come out with fire, we know they’re going to think do-or-die, and we’ve got to play that way, too,” Taylor said.

GAME ON … Tonight’s Game 6 is a 7 p.m. faceoff at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena. Game 7, if necessary, will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. The winner will advance to face the Powell River Kings in the Island Division final.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com