By contributor Ben Chessor
The Nanaimo Clippers have begun with a solid start for the 2015-2016 British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) season. After falling just two wins shy of the league championship last season, the Clippers look poised to take another run at the Fred Page Cup.
This season looks like it will be a rebuilding year for the Clippers who were set to lose a number of impact players due to age restrictions and school commitments. However, the team’s outlook for the season changed when it was announced that three core members of last year’s Island championship would be returning for another reason.
Veteran forward Devin Brosseau and last year’s leading goal scorer Sheldon Rhemple have both returned for another season in the harbour city. Joining them in defenceman Yanni Kaldis who finished second in the BCHL in scoring amongst defencemen last season.
Big things were expected of the three returning stars, and so far they have yet to disappoint. Rhemple leads the league in scoring with a total of 16 points in eight games, including seven goals. Brosseau currently sits eighth in scoring but holds the league lead with 12 assists. The two have been paired with new Clippers Matt Hoover on the team’s first line. Hoover currently sits third in the league scoring and his eight goals in eight games is tied with Chilliwack’s Vimal Sukumaran for the most in the league. Meanwhile Kaldis’s nine points in eight games is tied for the league lead in defenseman scoring.
The Clippers have a record of 5-3 after the season’s first eight games. Nanaimo’s 10 points puts them in second place in the five team Island Division. Nanaimo sits two points behind the first place Powell River Kings. The Cowichan Valley Capitals sit in third place in the division just one point behind Nanaimo. However, Cowichan Valley has played two fewer games than Nanaimo.
The Clippers are on the road the first two weeks of October and won’t return to Frank Crane Arena until Saturday, October 17 when they take on the BCHL’s newest team, the Wenatchee Wild. The game will mark the first time the two teams have faced off against each other. Puck drop for the game against the Wild is at 6 p.m.
Tickets for Clippers games can be purchased at the box office at Frank Crane Arena starting an hour before puck drop. Tickets are only $10 for VIU students and a free beer is included with admission.