#72 Brett Merner leads the players back to the bench to celebrate his first goal of the season.
#4 Charles Tardif scores Nanaimo's 4th goal and his sixth of the season.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-1 on Friday night. The game started with a presentation of the HMCS Nanaimo’s bell to the ship's crew as part of Remembrance Day ceremonies. Clippers got scoring help from some unlikely sources. Brett Merner and Luca Grabas registered their first goals of the season. Rylan Yates and Charles Tardif added the other two goals. Nanaimo goaltender Aidan Campbell stopped 42 of 43 shots faced.
The scoring started early in the first period. Two and a half minutes into the game, local talent Brett Merner fired a shot from the point after a Ben Brant face-off win making it 1-0 Clippers. Shortly after the goal Jake Hewitt was sprung on a breakaway but could not beat Bulldog goalie Hobie Hedquist. Back-to-back penalties for each team resulted in a minute and a half of 4-on-4 play. Neither team was able to capitalize with the extra space. Prior to the end of the first period, Kai Daniells was hauled down on a breakaway, resulting in a Clipper power-play. The power-play unit could not beat Hedquist. Nanaimo outshot Alberni Valley 13-11 in the first period.
Four minutes into the second period, after a mad scramble in front of the net, Luca Grabas tapped home his first goal of the season. Shortly after going up 2-0 the Clippers appeared to score their third goal of the game, but it was disallowed on the grounds of high sticking. The Clippers had another chance to go up three goals. Ethan Mistry placed a perfect pass onto the tape of Jake Hewitt’s stick, but Hedquist denied the chance. The Clippers dominated the pace of play in the second period but could not add to their two-goal lead.
In the third period, the Clippers took a defensive posture to preserve the lead. Midway through the third Jérémie Payant split the Bulldog defence and dished the puck to Rylan Yates, who scored his second goal of the year. Aidan Campbell kept the Clippers 3-0 lead by surviving an Alberni Valley onslaught late in the period. The Bulldogs were eventually able to solve Campbell, breaking up the shutout and making the score 3-1. A late Alberni Valley penalty gave the Clippers another power-play chance. With the extra room on the ice Nick Sajevic and Charles Tardif played tic-tac-toe before Tardif fired the puck by Hedquist to seal a 4-1 win.
Bulldog goalie Hobie Hedquist took home third star for his 39-save performance. Rylan Yates’ two-point night earned him second star. Aidan Campbell’s 42-save performance was good enough to take home first star of the game. FortisBC Energy Player of the Game went to Skylar Cameron for his tenacious play in the defensive zone. The Clippers head to Port Alberni on Saturday for a rematch with the Bulldogs.
The Clippers are on the road for the remainder of November. The next home game is December 2nd when the Clippers face the Chilliwack Chiefs. Tickets can be purchased at Nanaimoclippers.com or the Frank Crane box office on game day.