#24 Andrew Brown returns to the bench with his line to celebrate his goal, Nanaimo's 6th.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 8-4 in a Wednesday night shoot-out. California’s Noah Alvarez led the Clippers with 4 points, 2 goals and 2 assists in the win. Forward Luke Bibby added 2 goals. Noah Brown and Samuel Boisvert each scored a goal and 2 assists from the blue line. Goalie Massimo Urbani stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced in his first full preseason game. The game was chippy between the two island rivals; each team had over 20 penalty minutes. A potential preview of an exciting regular season home opener on September 22.
The Clippers opened the scoring on Alvarez’s 2nd preseason goal. Cowichan answered back just over one minute later after Urbani skated out to the faceoff circle in an attempt to play the puck. Cowichan Valley’s Darrius Bachler scored easily on the open net. Willyam Gendron laid a thunderous open ice hit on a Capitals skater, leading to a coughed-up puck and a scoring chance for the Clippers. Ontario-born Luke Bibby broke the deadlock towards the end of the first period. Bibby finished off a textbook tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Alvarez, and Swedish forward Gabriel Westling. The Capitals answered back again, tying the game at 2-2 before the first period ended. The Clippers ended the first period on back-to-back penalty kills, keeping the score tied. Cowichan Valley outshot Nanaimo 10-5 in the period.
Ontario-born defenceman Isa Parekh got the second period started with a raucous open-ice hit on a Capitals skater. Gendron took a double minor penalty for high-sticking early in the second that immediately led to a Cowichan Valley goal, giving them a 3-2 lead. Grant Babcock was issued a penalty that led to a short 5 on 3 chance for Cowichan. The Capitals quickly added to their lead, giving them a 4-2 advantage early in the second. Ty Wishart was bloodied after being hit into the Clippers bench on an illegal hit from Cowichan forward Darrius Bachler, who received the standard two-minute penalty. The hit seemed to rally the Clipper bench as they came out firing on all cylinders on the ensuing powerplay. One minute into the Clipper power-play Gus El-Tahhan potted his second goal of the preseason, cutting the Capital lead to 4-3. Immediately after scoring El Tahhan was swarmed by Capitals players, resulting in another power-play for Nanaimo. With a fresh two-minute power play the Clippers went to work on tying the game. Luke Bibby was eventually able to score his second goal of the game to tie it up at 4-4. Frustration seemingly settled in for the visiting Capitals, as they took a third penalty in a row shortly after giving up the lead. Noah Alvarez continued the trend of Clipper power-play goals by scoring his second of the game to put the Clippers in front 5-4. The Clippers headed into the second intermission leading by one goal. Despite being outshot 23-16, they managed to score 5 times on Capitals goalie Emerik Despatie.
The third period started with the Clippers being short-handed after Grant Babcock took a penalty late in the second period. Nanaimo’s penalty-kill unit was able to keep Cowichan Valley off the scoreboard. A cross-checking call against Cowichan’s Wesley Gordon put Nanaimo on the power play with a chance to add to their lead. Their chances were aided when Cowichan took another penalty, giving the Clippers a 5 on 3 opportunity. The Clippers took full advantage of the open ice when defenceman Andrew Brown scored on assists from Samuel Boisvert and Noah Alvarez, taking a 6-4 lead. The same three players linked up for another goal less than a minute later, this time scored by Boisvert, to go up 7-4. Nanoose Bay product Dallas Earl scored his first preseason goal to put the Clippers up 8-4. An incredible turnaround from being down 4-2 at the midway point in the second period. The remainder of the third period was defined by the Clippers attempting to run the clock out. Things got hectic as time expired when Clipper defenceman Zeyd Boltakke let Darrius Bachler know he was not pleased with Bachler’s hit that resulted in Ty Wishart leaving the game early.
Noah Alvarez, Noah Brown, and Luke Bibby earned the three stars of the night for their multi-point games. Willyam Gendron took home FortisBC Energy Player of the Game for his work on the boards. The next preseason game for the Clippers takes place on Friday against the Victoria Grizzlies. That will be the second to last tune-up game before the 2023-24 Regular-Season Opener on Sept. 22nd, which will be a rematch of this barn burner. Tickets can be purchased at the Frank Crane box office on game day, or at tickets.nanaimoclippers.com.
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