Four of the five teams competing in the Western Canada Cup will have been embroiled in playoff hockey for a month.
The other team, the Nanaimo Clippers, will have to try its best to bring playoff intensity to practice.
Nanaimo’s B.C. Hockey League team returned to regular practices Tuesday at Frank Crane Arena as it prepares for the Western Canada Cup tournament starting April 27.
The Yorkton Terriers, champions of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, have punched their ticket to the WCC and the B.C., Alberta and Manitoba junior A championships could all be decided over the next few days.
“We can’t mimic a playoff series in practice, that’s just impossible, but with hard work we can get pretty close to that speed…” said Brenden Forbes, Clippers alternate captain.
Josh Bryan, another alternate captain, said his team will be healthier than other teams at the WCC, but will need to use its practice ice time to try to get into game shape.
“You can do battle drills and hard-working drills and compete in practice as if it’s a game,” he said. “And in the situation we’re in, we have to do that in order to keep up the same competitive edge that the other teams are going to have coming out of championship series.”
Jayson Argue, Clippers goalie, said it will be up to the team’s leadership group to demand playoff pace from the home team.
“They will get us ready,” he said. “The other teams will have playoff intensity, but we’ll have the intensity of actually being back playing hockey again. That will be nice to have, and us being refreshed will be big, too.”
The Clippers won’t have the same amount of playoff experience as the other four teams, but Forbes pointed out that tournament hockey is different from a playoff series. The Clippers feel like their best game will allow them to compete.
“We got knocked out first round and [other teams will have] won a championship but I think it’s still the game of hockey and it can go either way,” Forbes said.
ICE CHIPS … For Western Canada Cup ticket information, please visit www.westerncanadacup.ca or call 250-751-0593 … To read about the Clippers’ mini camp this past weekend, please click here.