The Nanaimo Clippers found different ways to win hockey games on the weekend.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League club won a 7-5 goal-fest on the road Friday against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, then muscled out a 3-0 shutout victory over the Vernon Vipers the next night on home ice.
Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach, said his team had a good mindset going into Saturday’s marquee game after the previous night’s wild comeback over the hump.
“We started the game with a belief in ourselves and I think that’s a big step for us,” he said. “The mentality was very good.”
The Clips survived some penaltry trouble in the first period and then, in the second period, saw that they were able to take the game to the Vipers five-on-five. The game was 0-0 going into the third period.
“We wanted to stay on the attack,” Vandekamp said. “We’re not real believers in sitting back and trying to protect.”
Bo Brauer scored the game winner as he happened upon a loose puck well out from the net and turned and fired it home. Eric Margo followed up just 11 seconds later, redirecting a pass from Anthony Sabitsky. Brendan Taylor added an empty netter, but before that, goalie Jayson Argue was forced to make a few tricky saves on Vipers opponents including former teammates Michael McNicholas and Josh Bryan.
“A couple of the guys told me all those big saves were on either McNicholas or Bryan, pretty well,” Argue said. “I was pretty scared that they were going to bury one, so that’s good.”
The goalie, chosen first star, said he’s seeing the Clippers building belief.
“This is a hard league and you’ve got to come to play every night and you’ve got to believe you can win every night,” he said.
The night before, he stopped 25 if 27 shots in relief for the win. Sheldon Rempal led the offence with two goals and two assists and Taylor, Taylor Grobowski, Devin Brosseau, Austin Dick and Edwin Hookenson also scored.
There were a lot of die-hard Clippers fans who appreciated the back-to-back wins, as it was parents’ weekend and many families were on the Island from around the country.
“The boys did their job by winning two games and I’m sure the parents enjoyed themselves, too,” Vandekamp said. “As a coach sometimes you’re concerned about parents’ weekend because it can be distracting at times, but this one turned out well.”
GAME ON … The Clippers (7-7) visit the Bulldogs (1-12-2-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena.