NANAIMO - The VIU Mariners are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in the BCIHL.
That's no small feat considering the Mariners hockey program is in it's first year of existence.
VIU is 9-8 and sitting in fourth place in the league standings.
They take a three game winning streak into home games against Eastern Washington University and UVIC this weekend.
Those two teams have a combined four wins on the season.
If the Mariners can win at least one of those contests they'll be in the post season.
Assistant coach Donovan Tait isn't surprised because he had high expectations heading into VIU's inaugural year.
"We want to compete every night and we're doing that. I'm not surprised, we had a lot of good kids at camp. We knew we had some good talent coming in. The kids are coming together as a team and we're going to take a shot at a championship," said Tait.
Saturday's game is at the Nanaimo Ice Centre at 8 p.m. against Eastern Washington University, while Sunday the team heads to the Lake Cowichan Arena at 2:30 p.m. for an all Vancouver Island matchup against the University of Victoria.
Tait says the experience of playing some games in Lake Cowichan is a way to grow the BCIHL brand in another community.
The Mariners will be bringing a fan bus down to Sunday's game to add some of the atmosphere the players feel in front of the home crowd at the NIC.
"Lake Cowichan is a hockey crazy town with a good hockey history there," said Tait. "So it's going to feel certainly like a road game, it's going to be a neat experience for sure."
The Mariners success has been a team effort but Tait says the leadership group with junior hockey veterans like Ryan Coghlan, Garrett Halls, and Spencer Loverock has been key.
Also last week the BCIHL recognized VIU blueliner Darryl Senholt with the Player of the Week award.
He scored his first career goal against UVIC and the Calgary native also had two assists against the Vikes during a two game weekend series.
The Mariners are hoping to get a lot of VIU students out to their game at the NIC Saturday by offering free admission to the student body.
Tait says the team is still trying to get the word out to hockey fans of the Clippers and Buccaneers that the BCIHL is here and it's a fast and unique product.
So far the first year has gone extremely well and if the Mariners continue to feature local talent and put a winning product on the ice, Nanaimo hockey fans will certainly take notice.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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