Ben Chessor
The Navigator

Photo by Ben Chessor

During the first month of the British Columbia Hockey League season, the Nanaimo Clippers haven’t had many problems in the effort category. However, the team has struggled recently to get the results they have been looking for, as they have found themselves on the losing end of some hard fought games in the last couple of weeks.

On Friday, September 27, the Clippers put together their best game of the season. Nanaimo defeated the visiting Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 in front of 1041 fans at the Frank Crane arena. The Clippers came out hard for the drop of the puck, hitting Salmon Arm whenever they touched the puck. The Clippers were rewarded for their efforts at the ten minute mark of the first period, when Scott Prior ripped a shot past Adam Clark to make it 1-0. Five minutes later, Sheldon Rhemple split the Silverback defense and slipped the puck through Clark to put the Clippers up 2-0 going into the first intermission. Bo Brauer and Mason Mitchell added second period tallies, giving the Clippers a 4-0 lead after two periods.

Landon Smith solved Nanaimo net minder Jason Argue early in the third period to cut the Clipper lead to three. That goal ended the scoring as the Clippers picked up a well-deserved 4-1 win. Mitchell was named the game’s first star with a goal, assist, and fight. Argue made 30 saves to pick up the win and the games’ second star.

On Sunday, October 29, the Clippers played their first afternoon home game of the season against the visiting Langley Rivermen. Bo Brauer managed to open the scoring early, giving the Clippers a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Langley’s Austin Azurdia tied the game only 30 seconds later, beating Clippers goalie Liam McLeod. Langley added another before the end of the first period, taking a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.

The Clippers didn’t fare any better in the second period as the Rivermen carried the play, outshooting the Clippers 13-2 in the second period. Kevan Kilistoff gave the Rivermen a 3-1 lead at the halfway point of the period, and Langley took that lead into the second intermission. The shots after two periods favoured Langley 22-8. The two teams traded goals in the third period, but the Clippers were unable to mount a comeback, falling by a final score of 4-2.

The Clippers returned to the ice October 4 to play their rivals, the Cowichan Valley Capitals, for the first time this season. The Clippers found themselves the victim of a quick start, as Steen Cooper forced a turnover at the Capitals’ blue line and beat Argue on the ensuing breakaway to give the Capitals the 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game. It looked like the score would stay that way heading into the first intermission, until Cowichan caught a break. Daniel Wanner’s wrist shot from the blue line deflected off something in front of the net and beat Argue with just two seconds left in the period.

The Clippers got on the board with a late goal of their own in the second period. Brendan Taylor found a loose puck in the crease and slid the puck by Cowichan’s net minder, Robin Gusse, with 30 seconds to go in the period. The Clippers had multiple chances to tie the game early in the third period, but they couldn’t solve Gusse, who stood tall in the Cowichan goal. Cowichan put the game out of reach with nine minutes left in the third period as Colton Kehler fired a shot past Argue, with Devin Brosseau in the penalty box for slashing. Kehler’s goal was the final nail in the coffin for the Clippers who couldn’t solve Gusse. Cowichan picked up the win by a score of 3-1. Gusse stopped 32 of 33 shots for the win, and Argue stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced.

Nanaimo didn’t have much time to think about the defeat to Cowichan. They found themselves back on the ice the next night against the Westside Warriors. The Clippers were in for a tough game, as Westside came into the game as the tenth ranked team out of over 120 Canadian Jr Hockey League Teams.

The Warriors opened the scoring at the 15 minute mark of the first period as Tyson Dallman managed to slide a bouncing puck past Argue. Westside  doubled their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal before the period was over. With Corey Renwick in the box for elbowing, Ambrose Firkus fired a shot past Argue. The Warriors held onto the 2-0 lead until the 13 minute mark of the second period, when Anthony Sabitsky scored his first BCHL goal and cut the Westside lead to 2-1.

Korey Morgan completed the comeback for Nanaimo moments later as he converted on a shorthanded breakaway to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third period. Westside took the lead eight minutes into the final frame as Liam Blackburn found the net to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead. Westside put the game out of reach two minutes later as David Pope ripped a shot past Argue to give Westside a 4-2 lead. That is how the game ended. The Clippers extended their losing streak to three straight games.

With nine games complete in the BCHL season, the Clippers now find themselves one game under .500, with a record of 4-5. The Clippers’ eight points put them in fourth place in the five team island division. The Clippers are one point behind third place Victoria and three points ahead of fifth place Alberni Valley. The Clippers have played one less game than Victoria and three less than Alberni. The Clippers also announced their captain for this season: defenseman Scott Prior.

The Clippers also named Brenden Taylor and Devon Brosseau as alternate captains. The two will join current alternate Colton Dahlen as the team’s three alternate captains this season. Up until the naming of Prior as Captain, the Clippers had been using Prior and Dahlen as alternates and had no captain. The Clippers’ upcoming schedule features lots of island division action as the team travels to Victoria to play the Grizzlies Friday, October 11, before returning home for a rematch with Cowichan on Saturday.

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