Lights-out goaltending, plus a little bit of luck, led to a big win this week for the Nanaimo Clippers.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team defeated the Powell River Kings 2-0 on Wednesday at Frank Crane Arena, the Clips’ eighth win in their last 10 games.
“We basically found a way to win,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach.
The matchup pitted two defensively minded teams against each other and it looked that way for much of the night, with the score still 0-0 after 40 minutes of play.
“We really wanted it,” said Billy Faust, Clippers goalie. “Despite the first two periods [lacking] a little bit of intensity, I thought we brought it in the third.”
The Clippers’ Luke Gordon opened the scoring a minute into the third period as he got off a shot from a tough angle that found its way past Powell River’s goalie Sean Maguire.
Exactly 10 minutes later, the Clippers made it 2-0 when Kyle Kramer fired a shot from the side boards at the centre-ice red line that somehow bounced in.
“We worked hard for our bounces, too, so we’ll take them,” said Vandekamp. “We were engaged in the game and that’s all you can ask as a coach is for the guys to be engaged and give it their best and I thought we did that.”
Goaltending was a major factor, as Faust made 46 saves to outduel Maguire, a World Junior A Hockey Challenge star.
“I saw every shot and it made it really easy,” Faust said. “Those couple times I was scrambling and kicked the rebound out, they were there to knock it away.”
Faust, the BCHL’s leader in minutes played this season, has won eight of his last nine. His only loss in that span came in a game in which his team was shut out.
“[The puck] is a beach-ball size right now,” he said. “I’m having fun.”
The Clippers are feeling good about knocking off the tough Kings, especially with more big games looming.
“I’ve felt even since the beginning, when we do play as hard as we can and we’re playing our systems then we can beat any team,” Faust said.
GAME ON … The Clippers play the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Nov. 18) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. For a preview of the game, check back at Clippers Central later this evening … The Clips are also at home Sunday when they face the Coquitlam Express in a 3 p.m. start at Frank Crane. The Harbour City Rollers roller derby team will be in attendance holding a toy drive in support of Haven Society. Fans are asked to please bring an unwrapped toy, cash donation or gift card to donate to the society. Haven promotes the safety of women and children.