All they wanted for Christmas was two more points in the standings.
But the Nanaimo Clippers will have to be satisfied with a moral victory in their last game before the holiday break.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team wrapped up the first portion of the 2010-11 schedule with a 5-3 loss on Saturday to the Penticton Vees to end a four-game road trip with one win and three losses.
Coach Bill Bestwick was pretty happy with most aspects of his team’s play on the road trip, especially in the finale against the first-place Vees.
“We couldn’t have competed any harder than we did,” he said. “It’s a shame for our players that we didn’t get rewarded for their efforts, but we certainly know if we play more games that hard that we’ll be real hard to beat.”
The Clips outshot the Vees 38-27 and got goals from Zach Martin, Andrew Gladiuk and Ryan Stanimir but couldn’t match the home team’s firepower on Saturday.
Friday’s game, a 4-0 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters, was also a solid performance by the Shipmen. Gladiuk, Mike Domsodi and Colton Cyr staked the team to a 3-0 lead just halfway through the first period and Sam Labrecque added one in the second frame.
Charles-Andre Pelletier made 19 saves for the shutout.
“It’s important for our team to score early and we held the lead and we didn’t let Trail back in,” Bestwick said.
Over the first two games of the trip, Nanaimo didn’t get the goaltending it needed as Pelletier was pulled in a 5-1 loss to the Westside Warriors and again in a 7-3 setback at Salmon Arm. The Clips had more shots than the opposing team in each of those losses.
The one win on the road trip means the Clippers (18-17-1-3), depending how they want to crunch the numbers, can consider themselves a better than .500 team at the break.
“We’d like a few more wins in the win column but based on what we’ve gone through we’re really happy with how the kids have done,” Bestwick said.
He noted that the team has already lost over 200 man-games to injury and said only twice has Nanaimo been able to ice a full complement of 20 junior A players for a game.
“We’re trusting that we’re going to return to health post-Christmas and give ‘er a good run and be a real hard team to play against and continue to move up in the standings,” the coach said.
ICE CHIPS … In the loss to the Silverbacks, Labrecque, Kyle Kramer and Martin scored … Defenceman Todd Gebert suffered an upper-body injury in that game and didn’t finish the road trip … Nanaimo plays the Powell River Kings on Dec. 29 on the road, then visits the Surrey Eagles on Dec. 30. The next home game for the Clippers is an exhibition game Jan. 1 against Sweden’s Malmo Redhawks.