Clippers end 46th season, prepare for playoff matchup against Powell River

By Dan Marshall
February 28, 2019 - 9:08am

An eventful regular season has come to a close for the Nanaimo Clippers, now they'll play the Powell River Kings in the first round of the playoffs. It will be their second straight first round playoff series and the fifth post season battle in the past six years.Gary Dorland

NANAIMO – The 46th season of Clippers hockey has come to an end and the BCHL playoffs are around the corner.

On the ice it was a season of change with the team earning a record of 27-30-1 good for third place in the Island Division.

The club started with a young roster and got off to a slow start with a 2-7 record in the month of September.

October brought personnel changes and the Clippers record started to improve.

That included a three game winning streak in 'extra time' games early in the month when the team beat Trail in a shootout, and then went on to a road victory in overtime in Wenatchee, and in another shootout win in West Kelowna.

October featured a fun off ice moment of parking lot baseball on a road trip to Powell River.

Early November saw a pair of dramatic wins queued by tremendous individual performances.

Tyler Williams completed a hat trick in overtime in a win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals, and Sammy Steele finished off a three goal performance a week later with seven seconds left in a matchup versus the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Three of Nanaimo's nine games in the month went to overtime and success beyond 60 minutes was something that continued throughout the entire season.

The Clippers were a league best 9-1 in games that went to OT or a shootout.

Their only loss came in Cowichan in the final month of the season.

When looking back on the year, many of the players and coaches pointed to the Clippers ten game winning streak as the highlight.

Between December 9th and January 11th Nanaimo never lost, building up the longest streak of victories in the BCHL in the 18-19 campaign.

That run took the team from a battle with the Bulldogs and Capitals for fourth place, into being locked into third in the Island Division.

Over the final six weeks of the year injuries took their toll on the hockey club.

Nanaimo played without up to seven and eight regulars at the height of it and their record was very much up and down.

Victories over Penticton, Chilliwack, and Powell River were highlights from a team that showed they had a penchant for rising to the occasion in the bigger games.

Nanaimo recorded wins against the top three teams, and six of the top seven teams in the BCHL over the course of the 18-19 campaign.

In the regular season finale the Clippers honoured their graduating 20-year-olds.

Marcus Mitchell, Gunnar Wegleitner, Carter Stephenson, Dan Gatenby and Jordan Dawson were recognized before and after the game which ended up as a 6-4 win, setting up a first round playoff series with Powell River.

That game also featured the largest crowd of the season with 2172 in attendance at Frank Crane Arena.

The Clipper veterans look back to their firsts in the BCHL heading into their final playoff run.

Nanaimo is now preparing for yet another playoff series with Powell River.

The Kings won the season series 6-2, but the Clippers did win two of the last three head to head meetings.

Last season the two rivals met in the first round with Nanaimo having home ice.

Powell River won the series in six games, so the Clippers will look to have that same success as the road team this time around.

This will mark the fifth time in the last six years that these two teams have competed in a playoff series.

The Kings won in the first round in 2014 and 2018 and the Clippers recorded victories in the Island Division final in 2015 and 2016.

The playoff schedule for the opening round is as follows:

Mar 1 @ Powell River 7 p.m.

Mar 2 @ Powell River 5 p.m.

Mar 4 @ Nanaimo 7 p.m.

Mar 5 @ Nanaimo 7 p.m.

Mar 7 @ Powell River 7 p.m. *If necessary

Mar 8 @ Nanaimo 7 p.m. *If necessary

Mar 10 @ Powell River 7 p.m. *If necessary

 

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Another double gold weekend for VIU with wins at PACWEST basketball provincials