NANAIMO — They are underdogs for sure, but the Clippers bring a wealth of playoff experience into their first round series against the Victoria Grizzlies.
Nine of Nanaimo's 22 players have played in the BCHL post season before, a stark contrast from the three players that have suited up for a playoff game from Victoria.
If you break it down into games played the Clippers have a decided advantage 130-37.
The player on both sides with the most career playoff appearances is Nanaimo captain Spencer Hewson.
He's played 42 games and said a key to having success is not changing the way you play.
"I think it's a little bit of understanding what to expect. I can draw on some experience and hopefully I'll be able to pass that on to our other guys," Hewson said. "On the whole I think our team has a lot of playoff experience whether it's in the BCHL or at other levels. Whichever team can get through the nerves of playoffs more quickly is going to have success."
In the past two post-seasons the 21-year-old Nanaimo captain has been to a league final, a BCHL semi-final, and two game sevens along the way.
He has 12 points in his playoff career, including seven goals.
Another player who brings experience to the table is new forward Josh Blanchard.
His 12 playoff games don't come close to Hewson's total but if you combine all of the junior games that pair has played - it equals 459.
Blanchard acknowledges this playoff run will be different for him as a graduating 20-year-old.
"I'm just trying to take it one day at a time and enjoy every day that I can because you don't know when it is going to be your last. I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge at hand, I'm looking forward to this last run and I'd like to take it as far as I possibly can."
The will to win will be a powerful force in a best-of-seven series and the Clippers have that in spades with Hewson and Blanchard.
There's a player on the Victoria side who accounts for almost all of the Grizzlies playoff experience - leading scorer Cole Pickup.
The 65 point man has played in 224 regular season games and another 25 in the playoffs.
He and Hewson have lived the Nanaimo-Victoria rivalry since 2013 but they've never faced-off in a playoff series.
The last time the Grizzlies and Clippers met in post-season play was a five game Victoria win in 2011.
These two franchises have met for six series in their history with Victoria winning four.
The first round series will feature games one and two at the Q Centre on Friday and Saturday and then shift to Nanaimo for games three and four on March 7 and March 8.
In other Clipper news, 2012-2014 alumni Mason Mitchell has signed his first pro contract with the Washington Capitals.
He had 39 points in 82 games over two seasons and finished second in the league with 115 penalty minutes in 2013-14.
This past season at the University of Alaska at Anchorage Mitchell led the team with 12 goals, finished fourth in team scoring, and led the club with 73 minutes in penalties
Clippers @ Victoria Grizzlies - Friday 7 p.m. The Q Centre
Clippers @ Victoria Grizzlies - Saturday 7 p.m. The Q Centre
PACWEST Basketball Provincials
VIU Mariners Women vs Douglas College - Friday 1 p.m. Quest Gymnasium
VIU Mariners Men vs Douglas College - Friday 8 p.m. Quest Gymnasium
*** Gold and Bronze medal games are on Saturday
AAA Girls Basketball Provincials
Doverbay Secondary is representing Nanaimo - scores and draw online at bchighschoolbasketballchampionships.com
Nanaimo Hornets Rugby
Silent Auction and Fundraiser - Friday 6 p.m. Team Clubhouse at 6700 Dover Road
Silvertips vs South Island Royals - Saturday 4:45 p.m. - Frank Crane Arena
Silvertips vs South Island Royals - Sunday 2:30 p.m. - Island Savings Centre
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