Dec. was kind to Nanaimo’s Junior-A Clippers and Junior-B Buccaneers, and both teams closed out 2012 with a victory. The Clippers recorded three wins and three losses in a month that saw them on the road for four games, while the Bucs notched six wins in eight games.
The Clippers began Dec. with a two-game homestand, first falling to the visiting Powell River Kings in a hard fought 4–3 loss. Special teams were the dagger for Nanaimo, who went 0–3 with the man advantage and allowed two powerplay goals on three opportunities.
The second game of the homestand was Dec. 9 against the Surrey Eagles. After surrendering the opening goal just 38 seconds into the game, the Clippers responded with three unanswered goals. Nanaimo went on to win 5–2, and peppered Surrey goaltender Glenn Ferguson with 45 shots while Jason Argue made 32 saves for the game’s second star.
Nanaimo then embarked to the mainland for three road games in three nights. The first was a 3–0 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs. Nanaimo couldn’t find the back of the net despite firing 40 shots in the game. The team had better effort the next evening against Penticton, but still fell to the league-leaders 5–2. Josh Bryan and Greg Fraser tallied goals for Nanaimo.
The Clippers got back into winning ways against Trail on Dec. 16 with a 4–1 victory over the Smoke Eaters. Fraser scored twice to add to his team-leading point total, including a shorthanded goal just six minutes into the game. Austin Dick scored on the powerplay for Nanaimo, an area lacking production in previous games.
In the final game of 2012, the Clippers travelled to Victoria in an exciting 6–4 victory. Nanaimo opened the game with goals from Colten Dahlen and Trevor Fitzgerald, before Gerry Fitzgerald and Garrett Skrbich scored for the Grizzlies to tie the game 2–2. Dick, Taylor Grobowski and Mason Mitchell notched three unanswered goals for Nanaimo, but Victoria responded with two late goals to make the game 5–4 with 20 seconds remaining. Nanaimo scored an empty net goal to secure the win. The four Fitzgeralds playing the game—Victoria’s Fitzgerald triplets of Gerry, Leo, and Myles, and the Clippers’ Trevor Fitzgerald—accounted for four goals and seven points.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers were amassing a successful month in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, beginning with a 4–2 victory over league-worse Kerry Park. It was a penalty-filled game, but both teams finished scoreless on the powerplay.
Nanaimo then played a home-and-home series with Campbell River, crushing the Storm in both games. The first was a 4–1 road victory on Dec. 6, which saw two goals from Curtis McCarrick and single tallies from Will McNamara and Derian Hamilton. The Bucs won the following game 6–1 on the road, which saw three-point games from McNamara and Garrett Dunlop.
Playing their third game in as many nights, Nanaimo lost 5–3 to the Oceanside Generals. Despite entering the final period leading 3–1, Oceanside stormed back with four goals in twelve minutes to stun the Bucs. Both teams struggled on the powerplay, as Nanaimo failed to score on four opportunities and mustered just two shots in the third period.
Nanaimo regrouped for a 5–1 victory over Kerry Park in a game that saw five different goal scorers for the Buccaneers and multi-point games from only Jordan Levesque and Adam Smith. The team fell to Comox Valley 5–4 in a road game, but managed to notch more than a single powerplay goal for the first time all month.
Nanaimo defeated Campbell River for the third time in two weeks on Dec. 20, in a 6–5 victory that saw the visiting Storm at one point leading, and tieing the game twice. Quentin McShane scored the eventual winning goa. In the final game of the month, the Buccaneers beat Oceanside 4–1 on a three-point night from Dunlop. The team finished 2012 atop the North Division with 38 points.
The Buccaneers’ next game is at home against the Kerry Park Islanders, followed by an away match against the Oceanside Generals on Saturday. The Clippers next games feature a home-and-home series with the Cowichan Valley Captials, at home Friday, Jan. 11 and in Cowichan on Saturday, Jan. 12.