Nanaimo Clippers forward Matt Creamer

Nanaimo Clippers forward Matt Creamer

Season preview: Nanaimo Clippers skate onto fresh sheet of ice

The Nanaimo Clippers begin the B.C. Hockey League season this Friday (Sept. 9) with a home game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

The home opener is always an exciting part of hockey season.

For the 2016-17 Nanaimo Clippers, chock-full of new players, it’s a chance to introduce themselves to their city and their hometown supporters.

“There’s a lot of exciting new faces to come down and watch … which I think is exciting for the fans, to hopefully get connected to a new group of players here,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach and general manager. “We’re obviously excited to go out there and hopefully garner their long-term support through working hard and representing our community the best that we can.”

The Clippers begin the B.C. Hockey League season this Friday (Sept. 9) with a home game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

There are a few familiar faces, but for the most part, the core has moved on and this year’s Nanaimo Clippers team is a different, younger version.

“We’ve got plenty of speed and skill, a bigger, stronger D corps and a lot of youthful exuberance,” Vandekamp said.

Matt Creamer, returning forward, said the new guys are getting incorporated into the chemistry that existed before, making for a good group that can do a lot of things well.

“I think we’ll play some fast hockey, we’re very physical and we’re going to get the puck in and go to work,” he said. “It should be fun hockey to watch.”

The Clippers reached the B.C. Hockey League final two seasons ago and were one goal away last spring, and even with a retooled roster, will have the same long-term goals.

“I think we have an expectation to win,” said Sean Buchanan, veteran defenceman. “It’s part of our culture now that’s just expected and I think everyone understands that.”

Here’s a look at the 2016-17 Clippers:


One of the players to watch this fall will be returnee Lucas Finner, who appears ready for a dramatically increased role as a go-to guy offensively. Vandekamp said line combinations aren’t yet determined, but Finner skated this week at practice with Jamie Collins, an exciting addition, and another newcomer, Vincent Millette.

Team captain Spencer Hewson had surgery for an undisclosed injury during camp and should be back sometime over the next two weeks to assume a major on-ice role to go with his leadership duties. Creamer is another forward who will be looked to for leadership.

The Clippers are also high on Ben Solin, who brings high-level skill along with great work ethic.

The team made a trade this week, acquiring forward Tristan Crozier from the Grande Prairie Storm in exchange for forward D.J. Petruzzelli.

“We’ve got a lot of speed up front and we should be able to use our speed and we’ve got a couple of big guys to make some room for the smaller guys,” Creamer said.


Vandekamp said he would still like to add another offensive-minded defenceman, but he has guys who can fill the various roles for now.

“We’re an older group and we have lots of size, so I think we’ll be strong out there and push guys around out there hopefully and just [make] smart, simple plays,” Buchanan said.

He and Taylor Karel are the leaders of the unit; Buchanan is one of the longest-serving Clippers and Karel has added some new dimensions to his game. A few newcomers look poised to fit right in – Will LeNeave has some offensive upside from the blueline and Shawn Guison and Austin Crossley will also play important minutes.


Vandekamp generally doesn’t identify a No. 1 goalie and wouldn’t this year, either.

Brendan Barry, son of NHL agent J.P. Barry, is the more experienced of the Clippers’ netminders, having played as a backup with both the Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers.

Austin Roden will take on a greater role after helping out as an affiliate goalie with the Clips last season.


The Clippers and Bulldogs face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.

“Typically these opening games are exciting, because there’ll be lots of mistakes made both ways, which always leads to excitement,” Vandekamp said.

The Clippers are also at home Sunday, as they face the Powell River Kings in a 2 p.m. start.

Tickets will be available at the door or in advance by calling 250-751-0593 or visiting

Just Posted

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read