The Nanaimo Clippers started their 2014-2015 British Columbia Hockey League season on a rough note Saturday, September 20. The Clippers got off to a slow start at the Bauer BCHL showcase, losing to the Prince George Spruce Kings by a final score of 6-4.
The game was scoreless until late in the first period when Taylor Allen was able to jam the puck past Clippers goaltender Guilaume Decelles to give the Spruce Kings a 1-0 lead. Prince George expanded their lead at 7:31 in the second period. This time it was Justin Rai who beat Decelles to give the Spruce Kings a 2-0 lead. Six minutes later, a power play goal by Cole Todd put the Spruce Kings up 3-0. But before the end of the second period, Anthony Rinaldi scored Nanaimo’s first goal of the season to make the score 3-1 heading into the third period. Just 31 seconds after Brent Lashuk scored to give the Spruce Kings a 4-1 lead, Corey Renwick beat Prince George goalie Jesse Jenks to cut the lead to 4-2. Then just 30 seconds later, Devon Brosseau added another to make the score 4-3. At 11:59 of the third, Todd scored his second goal of the game to put the Spruce Kings up 5-3. Brett Roulston scored late and cut the score to 5-4, but the Spruce Kings added an empty netter and picked up the 6-4 win. The loss marked the third time in four years that the Clippers have lost the opening game of the season.
The Clippers finished their exhibition play this year with a record of 3-2. The team was a force offensively, scoring 23 goals in the six games. This year, the Clippers have 10 returning players from last year’s roster. The Clippers do have the luxury of having all three of the team’s top scorers from last season returning this season, with Brendan Taylor, Sheldon Rhemple, and Devin Brosseau. Taylor, who is returning for his fourth season in a Clipper uniform, has been named captain for the season. On defense, the team will look for returning players Edwin Hookinson, Nicholas Gushie, and Austin Dick to anchor the defense core. The team will have a completely new goaltending tandom. Nanaimo acquired 20-year-old goalie Guilaume Decelles to take over the starter duties. Decelles will be backed up by 17-year-old Jakob Severson.
The Clippers open their home schedule on Friday, September 26, against the Powell River Kings, who eliminated Nanaimo in the first round of last year’s playoffs. Nanaimo will also be in action the next night against the Victoria Grizzlies. Opening faceoff for both games is at 7 pm at Frank Crane Arena.
Standings as of publication: