The Nanaimo Clippers saw their potential during the first month of the season.
Finishing September 4-3, said coach Mike Vandekamp, puts them as an above-average club. Another win, they would have been 5-2 and an elite club.
One of the ways the Clippers can approach that status is with consistently strong starts in hockey games, and they realize that.
“We just need to play with more emotion and come out flying right from the start,” said Bo Brauer, Clippers forward. “If we can get that going and we can play all game through, then we can be a really good team.”
He said it starts with practice. Hard work during the week, Brauer said, should carry right through to puck drop.
“We’ve just got to be mentally and physically focused before the game,” said Austin Dick, Clippers defenceman. “Just prepared in general.”
Preparation is up to both players and coaches, but energy is up to the guys skating around the ice. If they’re not going full speed, it’s a helpless feeling for coaches, Vandekamp said.
“You can’t really do anything. You can juggle things up and try to find somebody that’s got a little fire and maybe play them a little bit more,” he said.
The Clippers expect to have no shortage of fire for their back-to-back home games this weekend against the Cowichan Valley Capitals and the West Kelowna Warriors. They know a little bit about both opponents, having played the Caps three times in the pre-season and then opening the regular season against the Warriors a month ago.
Dick said the Clippers need to execute their game plan, and Brauer said players need to do the things the coaching staff has been stressing.
“Come game time we just need to move our feet as much as we can … work our hardest and play the body and get in front of shots,” he said.
The game against the Caps on Friday (Oct. 4) is the BCHL Five Hole for Food Challenge and the Clippers are asking fans to bring non-perishable food items. For more information, please click here.
GAME ON … The Clippers and Caps face off at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Saturday’s game against the Warriors is another 7 p.m. start.