For the first pre-season game, the Nanaimo Clippers couldn’t have hoped for a much better result. The city’s B.C. Hockey League team beat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 8-2 on Sunday night at Frank Crane Arena.
“It was a pre-season game so there was sloppiness and mistakes made by both teams,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “We still have a lot to learn but it was nice for our confidence to get a win early like this and hopefully we can build on it.”
Nanaimo struck for three unanswered first-period goals and never relinquished control.
“We got some point shots through and they found their way in the net,” said Vandekamp. “Obviously that gave us some momentum and some confidence early in the game.”
Reid Sturos scored the goal of the night, winning a race to create a breakaway, then deking the Bulldogs goalie. Other scorers were Kevin Miller, Austin Dick, Brenden Forbes, Boston Colley, Steve Hladin and David Iacono.
The Clippers were pleased to see so many different players contributing.
“We scored goals with point shots and traffic, we scored a couple of goals using speed, we made a nice play on the power play to score one goal, a couple of good passing plays,” Vandekamp said. “So it was a mixed variety.”
Brenden Forbes, a veteran forward, said he thought all four lines played really well.
“It just shows how much depth there is in our camp and how hard it’s going to be on the coaches to make selections for the team…” he said.
“Judging by this one game there’s a lot of skilled players out here and not only are they skilled, they’re hard workers too, which is really nice to see. If you can mix the skill with the hard work, it pays off.”
The Clippers went with a fairly simple game plan, said the coach. They tried to play with some structure inside their own blueline, but at the other end of the ice, said Forbes, “we weren’t trying to get too crazy with tic-tac-toe game plays.”
He said that at this stage of the summer it’s an adjustment to get back to competitive hockey.
“I try to keep it simple, myself, and just get my legs and my hands and my head back into the game.”
As the Clippers continue their team-building process now, they get to do so with one pre-season win in the books.
“It’s really nice to get the first win…” Forbes said. “To get the confidence going and try to keep the streak going right into the season. And even kind of show the league, maybe, that we’re going to be a contender this year and hopefully be a team to beat.”
GAME ON … The Clippers play the Victoria Grizzlies Tuesday (Aug. 28) in Sooke, then host the Cowichan Valley Capitals Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.