Under siege

Nanaimo Clippers goalie Jayson Argue leading B.C. Hockey League in wins, shutouts and saves.

Nanaimo Clippers goaltender Jayson Argue makes a save while Penticton Vees opponents crash the crease during a game at Frank Crane Arena earlier this month.

Nanaimo Clippers goaltender Jayson Argue makes a save while Penticton Vees opponents crash the crease during a game at Frank Crane Arena earlier this month.

Jayson Argue hung in there in the crease for every minute of a three-game road trip.

The Nanaimo Clippers goalie faced a barrage of pucks – 128 shots came his way and he turned aside enough of them to give his team a chance to win each game.

Surely, 128 pucks takes a toll on the body, right?

“Not necessarily where the puck hits…” Argue said. “It’s more, you could almost say night terrors after a weekend like that. You see pucks in your sleep.”

His Clippers were outshot 30-24 in a 3-2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters, 45-16 in a 5-3 win over the Penticton Vees and 53-24 in a 3-1 loss against the Merritt Centennials.

Shots on goal don’t always tell the story, said Argue, suggesting his team’s compete level was good in the latter two games.

“You could tell that we wanted it, we battled hard…” he said. “The only thing that really wasn’t there was the shots for and against.”

Although the Clippers surrendered a lot of shots, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Players won’t hesitate to slide in front of pucks to try to help their goalie. Argue said if there’s no traffic around the crease, he’d rather have a clear view of the puck, but said if forwards are diving in front of a shot from outside, it helps.

“When people lay down to block it, you know if it’s getting through them it’s going to be in the upper part of the net because they’re laying down and covering the bottom part.”

As for generating chances, Argue said the Clippers’ style of play doesn’t always produce a lot of shots – forwards concentrate on a possession game, grinding it out down low and moving the puck from there to the front of the net.

Still, the Shipmen would like to start firing more often.

“We’re just holding onto pucks too long,” said Scott Prier, Clippers captain. “Other teams are putting 45, 50 shots towards us a game and Argue’s standing on his head … When you see Args stopping 50 shots a game, it makes you want to win for him.”

Nanaimo’s 20-year-old veteran goaltender has been a leader this season. His 12 wins and three shutouts are best in the B.C. Hockey League, he leads the junior A loop in saves (693) and he’s third in save percentage (.923).

He doesn’t mind the workload one bit.

“I’ve told [coach Mike Vandekamp] lots of times, if he wants me to play every game for the rest of the year, I will,” Argue said. “It’s my last year so I’ll get as much junior in as I can.”

ICE CHIPS … The Clippers have just one game this coming weekend, Friday (Nov. 22) at home against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. That matchup is a 7 p.m. faceoff at Frank Crane Arena.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com