Diary from the road with the Nanaimo Clippers

By Dan Marshall
March 8, 2018 - 12:45pm Updated: March 8, 2018 - 1:24pm

The Clippers celebrate a 2-1 overtime victory over the Powell River Kings on Mar 6Gary Dorland

Some of the best junior hockey stories come from teams being together on a road trip. 

The stories are told and re-told, and of course embellished over time.

This week the Nanaimo Clippers hit the road for three days in Powell River.

They're in the midst of a hotly contested best of seven playoff series that is locked in a 2-2 tie.

Monday and Tuesday the Clippers and Kings played a pair of overtime games at the Hap Parker Arena with each team winning once.

Road trips in the BCHL these days are centred around a routine.

A lot of that routine is eat, sleep, play hockey - but there's some fun down time in there too.

The latest road trip started before 8 a.m. on Monday morning with the team meeting at Frank Crane Arena to load up the bus

The drive up to the Little River Ferry is relatively quiet as everyone is still a little sleepy.

There aren't too many players or coaches that don't have a morning coffee with them for the drive.

One of the highlights of that ferry trip is the team breakfast.

The 'All Aboard Breakfast' is typically the most popular due to it's choice of multiple meat options.

There's almost always a card game or two on the trip with the team breaking up into smaller groups.

When the Clippers go to Powell River it's somewhat unique, in that they get to set up their dressing room early in the day.

In most road buildings the players don't arrive until two hours before puck drop, but on Monday the players dropped off their gear at the Hap Parker Arena just before noon.

After the gear is set up the team checks into their hotel for some rest. 

The popular meal spot in Powell River is called Moose and Eddie's where the Clippers have a bite to eat about four hours before puck drop for their game.

The players arrive at 5 p.m. and get on the ice for warm up at 6:30 p.m. with the faceoff a half hour later.

The game goes back and forth with the Kings eventually winning 3-2 in overtime.

Five and a half hours after they got to the arena, the Clippers head off for a post game meal, again at Moose and Eddie's.

The meal is a bit quiet after a loss and the players get to bed pretty quickly afterwards.

In junior hockey players learn to have a short memory so everyone is ready to turn the page the next morning at the team's 10 a.m. breakfast.

The captains organize a team walk for after breakfast to start their preparations for another crucial playoff game.

The afternoon is wide open with the exception of another team meal at 3 p.m.

Some guys will sleep, others will venture out, and at least one of the players had family visiting Powell River, and of course everyone has at least a device or two for movies and music.

Hockey teams are very superstitious so the Clippers made a notable change when they got to the rink for Game 4 on Tuesday.

Instead of the black jerseys they wore on Monday they went with their orange sweaters instead.

It worked, because on Tuesday the Clippers got the win in overtime with Preston Brodziak netting the game winner.

The players emerge back upstairs at the arena after the game and start their cool down, as they're doing that they check in with a live broadcast of a game in OT out of town featuring two of their closest rivals Victoria and Alberni Valley.

As that game ends the players all gather around to see the winning goal.

After the post game meal everyone heads back to the hotel.

Later that night a team tradition continues with the coaches and support staff getting into a card game called Wizard.

As usual the Tuesday game got rather heated and the team's radio announcer was particulary aggitated when he was unable to pick up a win.

Wednesday is a travel day with the team getting up for breakfast and grabbing their gear from the arena before getting onboard an 11:50 a.m. ferry.

The drive back from Comox to Nanaimo is quiet after back to back games going to overtime on the trip.

Just before the 3 p.m. the parking lot at Frank Crane Arena is empty again as the bus is unloaded and the players have headed for home.

[email protected]

On twitter: @danmarshall77

Clippers lose 3-2 in tight Game 5 with Powell River