The Nanaimo Clippers will try to make it a merry Christmas by ending autumn the right way.
The city’s junior A hockey club has three more games before its holiday break, all on the road this coming weekend. Nanaimo visits the Wenatchee Wild on Friday (Dec. 16), the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday and then the Coquitlam Express on Sunday.
By this point in the season, the Clippers have experience with lengthy road trips, and they’ve been through the good and the bad, sweeping a three-game swing through the Interior Division in October and then picking up just one point on the mainland on a November trip.
“On the first one, we were as good as we’ve been, and then on the second one, we were at a really low stage in our season,” said Jamie Collins, Clippers forward. “So I think using both of those weekends as kind of a building block for this weekend, I think we know where our heads have to be.”
Spencer Hewson, Clippers captain, agreed that the team needs to learn from its past experience, but at the same time put all its focus on the present.
“We’ve had a successful road trip; we’ve had one that’s not so successful,” he said. “[We need to] have that mentality that we need to take a step forward. We’ve got to come out Friday and play our best game and that’s all that we’re really focused on and if we can do that, the momentum from that performance should take us through the rest of the weekend.”
The Clippers will be excited to play in Wenatchee, as it’s still something of a novelty to play in the U.S. and the Wild get strong attendance at their home rink.
Another storyline is the fact that the teams just played one of the best games of the season last Friday at Frank Crane Arena, a 4-3 double-overtime win for Nanaimo.
“I think we can use [that] as a confidence booster, especially going into another game in Wenatchee,” said Collins, who scored the winning goal against the Wild on Friday. “We know we can beat them and … we played some good hockey, so we know we can do it and we play well when we have confidence.”
GAME ON … After this weekend’s road trip, the Clippers break until Dec. 30, when they visit the Powell River Kings. Next home action at Frank Crane will be Jan. 4, when the Victoria Grizzlies visit for a 7 p.m. faceoff.