As the British Columbia Hockey League season is entering its final weekend, the Nanaimo Clippers still await an opponent for the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers celebrated Family Day with a 5-2 victory over the Powell River Kings. The win clinched the BCHL’s Island Division, the team’s first division title since 2008. The division title ensures that the Clippers will open the playoffs at home on Tuesday, March 3 at Frank Crane Arena.
The Clippers will have to wait until the regular season ends to know who they will play in the opening round. Only five points separate second place for fourth in the Island Division.
On the ice, the Clippers suffered their first three-game losing streak of the season during the team’s interior road trip on February 13, 14, and 15.
First, The Clippers dropped a 4-2 decision to the top ranked Penticton Vees. The next night, Nanaimo opened the scoring in Vernon on a Jake Jackson powerplay goal. But Nanaimo couldn’t muster any more offense, falling 4-1 to the hometown Vipers. Nanaimo ended the road trip with another 4-1 loss the next day, this time to the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Clippers returned home on February 20 to take on the Powell River Kings in the team’s second-to-last home game of the season. The Clippers took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period on goals by Cole Maier and Nicholas Gushue, but Nick Halagian got the Kings on the board before the end of the period to cut the Clippers’ lead to 2-1.
Nanaimo took the game over in the second period. First, Jake Jackson finished off a beautiful passing play to put the Clippers up 3-0 five minutes into the second. Three minutes later, Devin Brosseau fired his 11th goal of the season past Kings start, Brett Magnus, to give the Clippers a 4-1 lead. In the third period, the Clippers got goals from Jacob Hanlon and Sheldon Rhemple to secure a 6-1 over the Kings.
The Clippers’ victory came in front of 2148 fans, a season high for attendance. Guillaume Decelles made 33 saves in net for the Clippers to pick up his 34th win of the season. Decelles leads all BCHL goaltenders in wins.
The Clippers have one home game left before the end of the regular season: February 27 against the visiting Victoria Grizzlies. The Clippers will also be at home for playoff games on Tuesday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 4. Puck drop for all games is at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the door prior to puck drop or at the Clippers’ team store located at Beban Park.