Jan. was a strange month for the Nanaimo Clippers, and with six wins and four losses it’s difficult to predict how they will do in the month to come.
The Clippers started the new year with a tough matchup against the Victoria Cougars on Jan. 4. The teams have always shared a tight battle, but now with former Clipper coach Bill Bestwick as head coach for Victoria, the rivalry is a bit more personal.
Victoria had commanding 4–0 lead after two periods, with two goals scored on the power play. Nanaimo opened the third period scoring at 6:33 with a short-handed goal from Greg Fraser, but Victoria responded with the final goal giving them a 5–1 win. The Clippers were 0 for 8 on the power play and only had 16 shots on goal. Victoria, on the other hand, went 3 for 9 with the extra man, and had a whopping 53 shots on goal.
The Powell River Kings were in town Jan. 4 coming off a big 2–0 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings, and after a tough game in Victoria the Clippers hoped to use their back-to-back home games to turn their luck around. That’s exactly what they did with a 3–2 victory over Powell River and a 2–0 shutout against Prince George.
Clippers hosted the Cowichan Capitals at Frank Crane arena for the first game of a home-and-home series and hoped to impress their home crowd for a second consecutive weekend.
Nanaimo’s Garrett Brandsma opened the games scoring with assists to Corey Renwick and Greg Fraser. Cowichan must have had a great first intermission pep talk, because only 44 seconds into the second period they beat Nanaimo goalie Derek Dun to tie the game 1–1.
The goal lit a spark for Clippers’ forward Kyle Kramer, who scored three unanswered goals giving Nanaimo a 4–1 lead going into the second intermission. The third period was all Clippers. Taylor Grobowski and Trevor Fitzgerald both scored early in the third and Cowichan added one more to their tally. Kramer scored his fourth goal of the night solidifying the Clippers 7–2 win, and earned the game’s first star with a five point night.
The Clippers travelled to Duncan and extended their win streak to four games. This time Reid Sturos netted two and Mason Mitchell added another giving them a 3-0 win.
After six days between games, the Vernon Vipers visited Frank Crane and ended the Clippers’ streak with a 6–4 win. The numbers were not the story in this game, as Nanaimo went 3 for 6 on the power play and outshot the Vipers 44–24. However, the Clippers finished their weekend with a huge 7–1 road win over the Powell River Kings. Nanaimo was perfect on the power play with goals from Aaron Hadley, Sturos, and Kramer.
A rare Wednesday night game on Jan. 23 brought in a large crowd as the team hosted College Night, which consisted of many VIU students in attendance. As a crowd pleaser the Clippers played against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs—always a great game to watch. The first period was all Clippers with Fitzgerald taking advantage of a power play at 15:30 and Kramer just two minutes later took the Clippers into the first intermission with a 2–0 lead. The first half of the second period was end-to-end, hard-fought hockey, but at the 12 minute mark the Bulldogs beat Dun and closed the Clippers’ lead to one goal. Just 1:45 later Mitchell netted a third goal for the Clippers and the team held onto a 3–1 win.
Unlike their strong start to the month, the Clippers’ ended Jan. on a losing streak, first 4–0 to Train and then 5–2 to Merritt. Clippers are only in town for two games in Feb. so make sure to come out and support the home team. Their next home game is Friday, Feb. 8 against Cowichan.