Special teams key for Nanaimo Clippers to stay division leaders

NANAIMO – Island Division-leading Nanaimo Clippers will look to stay on top with a stretch of three games in four nights.

The division-leading Nanaimo Clippers will look to stay on top with a stretch of three games in four nights.

The B.C. Hockey League club hosted the Victoria Grizzlies last night after press time and travel down the highway to play the team again at The Q Centre Friday night (Nov. 21). Nanaimo hosts the Trail Smoke Eaters the following night at Frank Crane Arena.

Head coach Mike Vandekamp said the team is starting to establish an understanding of its five-on-five game. It will continue to work on special teams, particularly short-handed situations, he said.

“Our penalty kill has given up some goals in the last few games,” said Vandekamp. “We’ve got to work on that part of your game and continue to just try to get better.”

The Clips have amassed a 3-0 record against the Grizzlies, a team Vandekamp calls hard working with good speed and tenacity. Saturday’s game will represent Nanaimo’s first against Trail this season.

Despite the Smoke Eaters dwelling at the bottom of the Interior Division, the Clippers’ coach said his team will not take the team lightly.

“They [Trail] have got a lot of players who are going to college hockey next year,” said Vandekamp. “They’ve got a strong, strong lineup. The whole Interior Division is a strong division, I think, in our league, so any team that comes from that division to play us is going to be tough, tough battle.”

Vandekamp said goaltending would be a game-time decision.