This Friday’s hockey game is sure to have a whole bunch of on-ice collisions, and that suits the Nanaimo Clippers just fine.
The city’s B.C. Hockey League team takes on the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday (Sept. 21) at Duncan’s Island Savings Centre.
“It’s always been a more difficult rink to play in,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “It’s a small sheet and things happen quickly in there.”
The tighter confines of the building known as the Big Stick might lead to more bodychecking, but Vandekamp said he wants his team to play physical, regardless of the opponent or arena.
“[We’ll] definitely try to open up with a little bit of physicality, get some space for some of our guys,” said Chris Rygus, Clippers defenceman. “And limit mistakes and limit turnovers as much as possible because you want to be playing their end as opposed to your own end.”
Fans in Duncan always bring their noisemakers to the game, and there’s a bell that sounds for every Capitals bodycheck.
“I’ve heard a bit about it,” said Jayson Argue, Clippers goalie. “We don’t like losing to anybody, but especially when it’s a team like Cowichan, apparently it’s a pretty heated rivalry so it’s a little extra motivation.”
He won’t get rattled, as he’s no rookie when it comes to rivalry games. Argue recalled road trips last season in his Manitoba league, when his Swan Valley Stampeders travelled to play the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard. About 20 Blizzard die-hards would stand behind his net and bang moose bones against the boards.
“They get after you pretty good,” he said. “I get a kick out of it and it keeps me relaxed.”
Team forced to make trade
The Clippers made a roster move last week, trading forward Mason Blacklock to the Surrey Eagles for future considerations. Vandekamp, Nanaimo's general manager, said the move was strictly because of roster numbers.
"We had too many players," he said. "I had to make a change. [We] wanted to get our seventh defenceman into the lineup, we had to make room with one roster spot and that's why we didn't bring another player back in the trade right now."
Blacklock is sort of joining his hometown team, since he hails from White Rock.
“Mason is a really, really good kid and a real hard-working guy and we really liked him here,” said Vandekamp. “I hope that he’ll be able to find a way to produce a bit more in his new home.”
GAME ON … The Clippers and Capitals face off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Duncan. Nanaimo's next home game isn't until Sept. 28, when the Victoria Grizzlies visit Frank Crane Arena.