#34 Aidan Campbell makes a key save in the overtime period.
#11 Willyam Gendron jumps against the glass to celebrate his overtime-winning goal against the Surrey Eagles.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers skated to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Surrey Eagles on Friday, in front of a sold-out Frank Crane Arena. In a matchup that saw the first and second-place teams in the Coastal Division, sixty minutes was not enough to solve the game. Nanaimo was led to victory on goals from Jérémie Payant, Kai Daniells, Mike Murtagh, and Willyam Gendron. Goaltender Aidan Campbell stopped 21/24 shots to earn his 20th win on the season. The Clippers now hold a 6-point lead over the Eagles for first place in the division with 33 games played on the season.
A penalty to Kai Daniells early in the first period gave the Eagles a man advantage. Surrey managed to score while Daniells was sitting in the penalty box, taking a 1-0 lead. The Clippers got a chance to answer after an Eagles penalty gave Nanaimo a power play. Just after the penalty expired Eagles defender Josh Wessels came out of the box and was sprung on a breakaway but was easily turned away by Clipper goalie, Aidan Campbell. Towards the end of the first, Jérémie Payant took a stretch pass from Charles Tardif and proceeded to deke a Surrey defender out of his skates before launching the puck top shelf to tie the game at 1-1. Surrey retaliated with their own silky goal to take a 2-1 shortly after Payant scored. The Clippers swarmed the Eagles' net late in the first but couldn't score the tying goal before time expired in the first.
Payant got another breakaway chance to start the second but was denied this time on a spectacular save by Surrey goalie Eli Pulver. Kai Daniells scored his 20th goal of the year on a spectacular set play after a face-off win to tie the game 2-2. The Clippers' second penalty of the game came just after the goal. It was killed off after multiple Skylar Cameron shot blocks kept the score tied. Surrey scored midway through the second to retake s one goal lead eight minutes in. Mike Murtagh completed a fantastic 200-foot shift and tied the game at 3-3 after a scrum in front of Surrey's net. Nanaimo outshot Surrey 19-7 in the second period.
The third period was headlined by key saves by goalies Campbell and Pulver to keep the game tied. Both sides appeared to play more defensively to avoid mistakes. The Eagles made the first mistake, taking a penalty midway through the third. The Nanaimo power-play unit could not break the deadlock. Kai Daniells ended the initial 60 minutes the same way he started, with an extensive penalty. A high stick that drew blood gave Surrey a four-minute power-play. The Clippers kept the game tied and forced overtime in front of 2,500 fans at The Frank.
The Clippers started down 4-3 in overtime with a minute and a half left on the Daniells penalty.
The penalty was killed off easily by the penalty kill unit. Only getting one shot was all the Clippers needed to win in overtime. Willyam Gendron streaked down the side wall and fired a shot that squeaked through Pulvers pads for a Clippers win.
Mike Murtagh, Jérémie Payant, and Willyam Gendron took home the three stars of the game, respectively. FortisBC Energy Player of the Game was awarded to Skyler Cameron for his efforts on the penalty kill in key moments of the game.
The Clippers are back in action on Sunday, January 15th to face the Langley Rivermen at The Frank. Tickets can be purchased at Nanaimoclippers.com or the Frank Crane box office on game day.