An up-and-down season ended with an up-and-down weekend. Now, ready or not, the Nanaimo Clippers are switching to playoff mode.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-2 on Friday at Frank Crane Arena, but went on to lose 5-3 to the Victoria Grizzlies the next night on the road.
The outcomes mean the Clips face the Grizz in Round 1 of the playoffs starting Friday (Feb. 25) in Victoria.
The best crowd of the season was on hand for the Clippers’ final home game as 2,800 filled the Crane on Friday and watched the home team jump out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Andrew Gladiuk and Brayden Jaw.
“When we scored that first goal it was electrifying in the rink,” said Jaw. “That really gets us going.”
The Bulldogs fought back to tie it by the midway mark of the third period, then Clippers defenceman Victor Newell scored with two minutes left.
Charles-Alexy Premont made 17 saves for the win.
The two points put the Clips in position where they could have had home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs had they beaten the Grizz in regulation the next night. It was not to be as Victoria opened a 4-2 first-period lead on the Clippers on Saturday and held on.
Myles Fitzgerald scored twice for Nanaimo, Brett Hartskamp also tallied and Premont made 18 saves in defeat.
The Clippers said they were disappointed not to seize home-ice advantage in the playoffs, especially considering the huge crowds at Frank Crane lately.
“It’s kind of frustrating that we didn’t get the home ice with all those fans there,” Fitzgerald said.
GAME ON … The Clippers play the Victoria Grizzlies in Round 1 of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs. Game 1 is Friday (Feb. 25) 1t 7:15 p.m. at Bear Mountain Arena. Game 2 is the next night at the same time and place. The Clippers host Game 3 on Monday (Feb. 28) at 7:11 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena … For a preview of the series, pick up Thursday’s issue of the News Bulletin … The Clippers handed out their year-end awards on Sunday; for the full story click here.