#72 Brett Merner checks a Victoria player while #31 Tyler Hodges dives on a loose puck.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers emerged victorious over the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday, winning 5-2. With the win, the Clippers improve to 7-7-2 on the season. Prior to the puck drop, a moment of silence was observed in honour of all the brave men and women who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. The crew of the HMCS Nanaimo were also honoured pregame.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the 1st period the Clippers, led by a line of Mike Murtagh, Willyam Gendron, and Luke Buss, clawed back in the 2nd period and did not look back the rest of the game. Gendron and Brett Merner each had 4-point nights. Murtagh scored twice to add to his team lead in goalscoring. Goalie Tyler Hodges stopped 26 of 28 shots faced after giving up 2 early goals. The win snapped a 3-game losing skid for Nanaimo.
The Grizzlies opened the scoring 5 minutes into the 1st period on a 3 on 2. Victoria forward Charlie Gollob flicked the puck over Tyler Hodges’ glove. The Grizzlies added to their lead shortly after scoring their 1st goal, taking a 2-0 lead in the early stages of the 1st. The Clippers were handed the first penalty of the game late in the 1st. Willyam Gendron got booked for slashing. Nanaimo’s penalty-kill unit successfully killed off the penalty and seemed to gain momentum once Gendron was back on the ice. Hard work would pay off as the Clippers were handed a power-play chance with 30 seconds left in the 1st. A mad scramble in front of the Grizzlies net led to Gendron potting his 6th goal of the season, cutting the Grizzlies lead to 2-1 heading into the 1st intermission. The Clippers managed to outshoot the Grizzlies 15-12 through 1 period of play.
New York state product Mike Murtagh scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season early in the 2nd period to tie the game at 2-2. The Clippers were given their 2nd power play of the game shortly after tying the game. With the extra time and space, Luke Buss wired home his 2nd goal as a Clipper to put the home team up 3-2. After the 2nd period media timeout Willyam Gendron was sprung on a breakaway on a brilliant pass from Captain Brett Merner. Gendron pulled off a spectacular deke coming in alone on Auyeung-Ashton, faking a forehand shot before pulling it back for a one-armed backhanded tuck. The Clippers would be rewarded for their relentless pursuit in the offensive zone as a lucky bounce off the glass behind the net somehow ping-ponged its way into the back of the Grizzlies net for a 5-2 lead. Towards the end of the 2nd, the Clippers received back-to-back penalties which led to most of the final 4 minutes being played short-handed. The Clippers were outshot 11-10 in the 2nd but led on the scoreboard.
The Clippers were content to hold the lead in the 3rd period. Playing dump and chase hockey, keeping the puck away from the Grizzlies. Their defensive efforts in the 3rd kept the Grizzlies to only 5 shots in the period. Each team received a penalty in the 3rd but neither side was able to capitalize with the extra skater.
Gendron, Murtagh, and Merner earned the 3 stars of the game, respectively. Luke Buss was named FortisBC Energy Player of the Game for his game-winning goal and 2 assists. The Clippers head out on the road for 3 games before returning to the friendly confines of the Frank Crane Arena on November 24th to face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Tickets can be purchased at the Frank Crane box office on game day, or at tickets.nanaimoclippers.com.
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