For the last month of the British Columbia Hockey League season the Nanaimo Clippers knew they were going to finish in third in the five team island division, and now they finally know who they play. The Powell River Kings lost 3-0 to Port Alberni on the last night of the regular season; the loss meant that Victoria finished first in the Island division, two points ahead of the Kings.
The Clippers are struggling slightly entering the first round of the plays, which begin for Nanaimo Tuesday, March 4 in Powell River, having only won two of the seven games they played in February. But it would be easy to blame this recent slump on a lack of motivation, with Nanaimo having a firm hold on third place for the last two months of the season.
The Clippers finished their regular season with a record of 27-28-1-2, one game below .500 and 21 points behind Powell River. Alberni Valley finished just six points behind Nanaimo in fourth place, capturing the islands final playoff spot with the last day win against Powell River. The Clippers finished 12 in the 16 team BCHL with 176 goals scored and seventh with 172 goals against. Brendan Taylor finished as the team’s leading scorer with 56 points in 55 games. Jarid Lukosevicius was Powell Rivers leading scorer during the regular season, registering 59 points in 57 games.
Powell River dominated the head to head match up against the Clippers this season, winning six of the eight games between the two teams. The Kings outscored the Clippers 30-23 over those eight games. The Kings finished the regular season with a record of 36-16-2-4. Powell River sits in the top five in the league in both goals for and against. The Clippers do hold a slight advantage in the special teams department, Nanaimo’s powerplay ranks seventh in the league, while Powell Rivers was 13. But the Kings second ranked penalty kill will certainly make it a tough series for the Clippers powerplay. Nanaimo’s penalty kill improved heavily over the course of the season, finishing sixth in the league after being in the bottom third of the league for the first half of the season.
If the Clippers are going to have a serious shot at upsetting Powell River they’re going to need a big series from goaltender Jayson Argue. Argue, who’s nominated for the league goaltender of the year award, finished the season with a record of 24-19-1. He also led the league with a .928 save percentage. He also faced 1523 shots last season, second in the league behind Cowichan Capitals net minder Robin Gusse and third in the league in minutes played. Argue is 20-years-old and is in his final season of Jr hockey.
The series between Nanaimo and Powell River gets underway Tuesday, March 4 in Powell River, followed by game two the next night. Games three and four are scheduled for Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8 in Nanaimo, puck drops at 7pm. For more information on the series schedule and tickets visit nanaimoclippers.com.
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