The Nanaimo Clippers spend a lot of time scouting the United States in search of high level players that will excel in the BCHL on their way to the NCAA Division 1. They also pride themselves on bringing the American players up to the next level as they ready themselves for the NCAA Division I.
Two American players on the 2021-2022 Clippers squad deserve special mention for their achievements this year.
Cooper Black, the Clippers’ starting goalie, is heading to Dartmouth College this upcoming season. In his two previous seasons, he played in the NAHL first with the Maryland Black Bears and then with the Odessa Jackalopes. Over his 36 starts in the NAHL, Black has a respectable 2.72 GAA with a .912 save percentage. He was not as successful in the win column sporting a 13-14-7 win/loss total.
Like many American players, the move to the BCHL worked out very well for Black. In 33 games with the Clippers, he had a win/loss total of 24-7-1. If not for an injury that sidelined him for the better part of 2 months, he would have lead the BCHL in wins but still finished a respectable 4th. Black, however, lead all goalies in the BCHL with a league best .924 save percentage. He was also 3rd among imports in goals against average at 2.62 and 7th overall in the BCHL.
Despite the BCHL being considered a superior skill league to the NAHL, it is clear that Cooper Black brought his game to a new level as he heads to college hockey next year.
Max Itagaki is another American from the NAHL who saw his game take off under the Clippers’ coaching staff. He finished first among Americans in points with 27 goals and 34 assists for 61 points in 54 games and second in goals. Those totals were good for 11th in league scoring overall and 12th overall in goals in the league. The high performance of Itagaki landed him a scholarship to Army of the NCAA Division 1.
Most impressive is that Itagaki’s game took off as soon as he came to the BCHL and the Clippers program. Over the two years he was in the NAHL, he played 73 games and accumulated 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points, so it is clear that the BCHL experience brought Itagaki to the next level.
The Clippers pride themselves on developing American born players so they are ready to move on to the NCAA Division 1 to be impact players.