It took a few tries, but the Nanaimo Clippers have finally guaranteed their spot in the BCHL playoffs. The Clippers secured their spot with an 8-2 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, February 14. It was the fourth straight game Nanaimo could have clinched a playoff spot with a win; the Clippers had dropped their previous three contests. Nanaimo will finish the regular season in third place in the league’s Island Division and will face either Victoria or Powell River in the first round of the BCHL playoffs, which are slated to begin on Tuesday, March 4.
On Friday, January 31 the Clippers faced the Victoria Grizzlies for the ninth and final time of the season. Devin Brosseau opened the scoring for Nanaimo on a powerplay at 8:13 of the first period. Brosseau added his second of the game late in the first to give Nanaimo a 2-0 lead after the first period. Brendan Taylor added to the Clippers lead early in the second period on a powerplay, giving the Clippers’ a 3-0 lead.
Jaden Schmeisser got the Grizzlies on the board in the last minute of the second period to give Victoria some life, but the Clippers still led 3-1 heading into the third period. 51 seconds into the third, Schmeisser scored his second of the game to get the Grizzlies within one. Victoria had some great chances to tie the game in the third period, but couldn’t solve Clippers starter Jayson Argue. Taylor added an empty netter for his second of the game, and the Clippers skated away with a 4-2 victory.
Nanaimo finishes their season series with Victoria with a record of 2-7, but the Clippers do have the momentum, winning the last two games between these two teams after dropping the first seven.
The Clippers were back in action on Wednesday, February 5 against the Port Alberni Bulldogs. Scott Clark gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. After Spencer Hewson tied the game early in the second period, the Bulldogs got the lead back on a powerplay goal by Trig Strand. Lead 2-1 heading into the third period, the Bulldogs started to pull away. Two goals by Justin Georgeson early in the third period gave Port Alberni 4-1. The Bulldogs held on to win by a final of 5-2.
Friday, February 7 The Clippers were in action against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Capitals got on the board just 2:41 into the game with a goal by Myles Powell. At 15:45, a Taylor Allen goal put the Capitals up 2-0. Colton Kehler made it 3-0 for the Capitals early in the second period as he beat Nanaimo goalie Tanner Kovacs.
Powerplay goals by Brendan Taylor and Sheldon Rhemple got Nanaimo back in the game, but Cowichan still led 3-2 heading into the third period. Midway through the third period, it looked like Bo Brauer had tied the game for the Clippers, but after the officials convined, they waved the goal off, claiming that Devin Brosseau had made contact with Cowichan goaltender Robin Gusse, so Cowichan still held on to a 3-2 lead. Just moments after Brauer’s disallowed goal, the Clippers managed to tie the game again, and this time it counted, thanks to a beautiful wrist shot from Anthony Sabitsky. The game went into overtime tied 3-3. Midway through the second overtime, Powell scored his second of the night to give Cowichan the victory.
Nanaimo and Cowichan were back in action on Wednesday, February 12 for a rematch. The game was scoreless until the second period, when Brendan Taylor got the Clippers on the board. At the midway point of the second, Mason Malkowich got Cowichan on the board and tied the game. Brayden Gelsinger gave the Capitals the 2-1 lead on a late second period powerplay. The Clippers tried to tie the game in the third period, firing 17 shots on Capitals goaltender Robin Gusse, but Cowichan added an empty netter and held on for the 3-1 victory.
Coming off three straight losses to divisional rivals, the Clippers came out firing against the Chilliwack Chiefs on February 14. The Clippers opened the scoring just 37 seconds in, but the Chiefs tied the game just over a minute later. With the game still tied at one late in the first period, the Clippers got back-to-back goals from Anthony Sabitsky to take a 3-1 lead after the first period. The Clippers scored five more times in the game’s final two periods, including another by Sabitsky to complete the hat trick. The 8-2 matches the Clippers’ record for most goals scored this season. Nanaimo also scored eight goals in an 8-1 win over the Coquitlam Express earlier in the season.
Nanaimo only has two home games left before the playoffs start on Saturday, February 22 against the Surrey Eagles and Friday, February 28 against Powell River. Tickets are now only $10 for VIU students and can be purchased at Frank Crane Arena before games or from the Clippers website at nanaimoclippers.com.