Clippers defeat the Langley Rivermen 6-2

#72 Brett Merner gives extra effort to block a shot on goal.

By Malcom Cooke

The Nanaimo Clippers won a hard-fought game against the Langley Rivermen on Friday night, by a score of 6-2. The win puts the Clippers in a three-way race with Chilliwack, and Alberni for 2nd place in the Coastal Conference. Connor Haynes notched two goals and a single assist en route to the Clippers' 23rd win of the year. Mike Murtagh scored his 24th goal of the campaign and claimed 2nd place in the BCHL scoring race, one goal behind West Kelowna’s Felix Caron. Gabriel Westling, Connor DeTurris, and Dylan Kinch added the other Clipper goals. Chazz Nixon stopped 22 of 24 shots faced for his 7th win as a member of the Clippers. The fans at The Frank got sent off with a raucous finish that saw multiple fights break out once the Clippers had all but sealed the win. Liam Rodman and Grant Babcock dropped the mitts with Rivermen skaters on back-to-back whistles.

Gabriel Westling opened the scoring less than two minutes into the Friday night matchup. Westling’s shot redirected off multiple players before bouncing off a Rivermen skate past the goal line. Westling added his name to the scoresheet on his second shift of the game as well, for a two-minute roughing penalty. The Clippers were successful in killing off the penalty and maintaining the lead. The Rivermen tied the game at 1-1 in the middle section of the 1st period after a bad bounce left Langley forward Oskar Komarov alone in front of the net. The Clippers were awarded their first power-play chance late in the frame but failed to retake the lead. Connor Haynes notched his 10th goal of the season late in the 1st period, putting the home team up 2-1 heading into the intermission. The Clippers outshot the Rivermen 14-11 through one period of play.

The Clippers came out firing to start the 2nd period, managing to get multiple breakaways in the initial minutes. Rivermen netminder Mason Beaupit turned aside the early onslaught to keep the score at 2-1. Back-to-back tripping penalties put both sides down a skater, resulting in nearly two full minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. The game returned to full strength with neither team getting on the scoreboard. Andrew Brown was called for a hooking penalty, putting the Clippers down a man for the third time. The Clippers' penalty-kill unit was able to keep Langley from scoring. Connor Haynes notched his 2nd goal of the night on a shot that snuck through the five-hole of Beaupit, going up 3-1. After taking a two-goal lead, the Clippers locked in defensively and let the Rivermen skate around the offensive zone for extended periods of time without registering a shot on goal. Chazz Nixon made timely saves when he had to but for the most part, it was the Clippers' defence that was keeping the Rivermen out of high-danger areas. Frustration seemed to be boiling over for Langley as they were handed a face-off violation in the final minute of the period. The Clippers once again outshot the Rivermen in the 2nd period by a margin of 10-6.

The Clippers began the 3rd period on the power play, their 3rd of the game. However, they could not add to the 3-1 lead. The referees would grant Nanaimo another chance for a power-play goal after Mike Murtagh got hooked to the ice in front of the Langley net. The Clippers would score just 4 seconds after the penalty expired as Mike Murtagh scored his team-leading 24th goal of the year. Less than a minute later, Connor DeTurris would notch his 13th goal of the season to put the Clippers up 5-1. Isa Parekh was thrown from the game for a hit to the head, resulting in a five-minute penalty against the Clippers. The hit sparked some energy in the Rivermen bench which led to an old-time tilt between Liam Rodman and Dalton MacGillivray which saw Rodman win the scrap. As the dust cleared, another scrap between Grant Babcock and Logan Morrell kicked off that resulted in a slew of penalties. After it was all said and done the Clippers had a four-minute power play and had killed off the initial five-minute penalty to Parekh. Each side scored once more before the final horn, making the score 6-2 for the hometown Clippers. The Clippers outshot the Rivermen 40-24 throughout the duration of the game.

Connor Haynes’ three-point night was good enough to earn him 1st star. Mike Murtagh and Chazz Nixon were named 2nd and 3rd stars, respectively. FortisBC Energy Player of the Game went to Liam Rodman for his spirited tilt in the 3rd period.

The Clippers head to Victoria on Saturday for a date with the Grizzlies and then return home to the friendly confines of the Frank Crane Arena to face the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday, February 23rd. Tickets can be purchased at the Frank Crane box office on game day, or at

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