NANAIMO – The 2018-19 season is a fresh start for the Nanaimo Clippers.
There's a lot of new faces on and off the ice and there's a feeling of excitement around the team as new relationships are being built and everyone is settling into their roles.
Training camp started on Monday with about 60 players and is now down to 45 hopefuls intent on making the cut as Nanaimo Clippers when the BCHL season opens on Sept 8.
Coach Darren Naylor says the camp will be run in three phases.
Phase one is already complete with the team evaluating that group of 60 for two days.
Phase two will conclude with the team's first three exhibition games this weekend and Phase three will feature the final battle for roster spots over the club's final three preseason contests.
Normally the Clippers would be basing out of Frank Crane Arena but with the Presidents Cup lacrosse tournament in town they'll be playing and practicing out of Cliff McNabb Arena and the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
After that Naylor says the Clippers dressing room will be getting a major upgrade, so for the players waiting a little longer to get into their home rink will have some perks.
One of the newcomers Marcus Mitchell brings three years of BCHL experience with Salmon Arm and Penticton.
He's hoping to be an offensive force this year and has already started to build some chemistry with a couple of veteran linemates.
“Definitely playing with Nick Wilson and Brady Lynn, we had a great day (day three of camp) today,” said Mitchell. They're great guys off the ice too.”
Kyler Kovich is one of the Clippers youngest recruits, the 2002 born winger spent last year with the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs of the BCMML.
He's enjoying his first camp experience and has high expectations for his rookie season.
“I want to prove how good I really am. The points will come. I feel like I can (produce) this year as long as I'm trying my hardest on the ice I feel like anything is possible," said Kovich.
The Clippers weekend schedule sees them in action back to back against the Victoria Grizzlies, Friday at the NIC at 7 p.m. and Saturday at Juan De Fuca Arena at 5 p.m.
Nanaimo wraps up the weekend at the NIC with a Sunday afternoon game against Powell River at 1 p.m.
Next week the Clippers will be back on the ice doing scrimmages and practice sessions until they play another trio of games to finish the preseason.
Nanaimo will host Alberni Valley on Aug 31, play the Bulldogs at Oceanside Place on Sept 1, and conclude their exhibition schedule with a game against Powell River on Sunday Sept 2 in the Comox Valley.
The regular season kicks off with a home game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Sept 8 at 7 p.m. Frank Crane Arena.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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