#34 Aidan Campbell follows the bouncing puck.
#4 Charles Tardif tuck the puck past the Langley goaltender for Nanaimo's 2nd goal.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers defeated the Langley Rivermen 3-2 in a Sunday afternoon matinée. The Clippers get their 27th win of the season and continue to sit atop the Coastal Division. Langley came into town after playing two games in two days and gave a late push to make the game interesting. Goals from Brett Merner, Charles Tardif, and Ben Brant helped push the Clippers to the win. Netminder, Aidan Campbell, turned aside 42 of 44 shots to earn his 21st win of the 2022/23 BCHL season. The Clippers roll into the BCHL all-star break with a healthy 8-point lead over second-place Surrey Eagles.
The Clippers received the game's first penalty in the early minutes of the first period after a slow start from both teams. The penalty kill unit handled the assignment and kept the game scoreless. The Clippers got their first power-play chance after Luca Grabas was hit from behind, which was quickly followed by another Langley penalty. The result was a minute and a half of 5 on 3 favouring the Clippers. A sharp-angle chance for Brody Waters was turned aside by Rivermen goalie Taje Gill. Before the 5 on 3 expired hometown kid, Brett Merner opened the scoring on the power play. The second penalty expired but the Clippers walked away with a 1-0 lead. Charles Tardif gave Nanaimo a 2-0 lead with just 14 seconds left in the first after taking a pass from fellow Quebecer, Willyam Gendron. The Clippers outshot the Rivermen 13-8 in the first period.
Once again, the Clippers got an early penalty to start a period. Once again, they killed it off without allowing Langley to get set up. Aidan Campbell made a sprawling cross-crease save on the penalty kill to keep the Rivermen off the scoreboard. Just as the penalty expired, Victoria-born Ben Brant scored his first as a Clipper as he wheeled down the side wall and fired a laser past the outstretched blocker of Gill for a 3-0 lead. The Rivermen managed to break up the shutout with less than two minutes to play in the second, making the score 3-1. Coincidental roughing penalties left the end of the second to be played at 4 on 4. Despite getting outshot 23-11 in the second, the Clippers still went to the locker room with a two-goal lead.
The third period started 4 on 4 but saw the Clippers play more defensively in order to maintain their lead. The Rivermen found a gap and scored their second goal of the game to make it 3-2 midway through the third, after outshooting the Clippers for most of the period. The Clippers locked in and did not allow a tying goal as time expired in the game. Outshot 36-20 after the first period, the Clippers' defence did excellent work limiting any high-danger scoring chances.
Willyam Gendron, Andrej Kovacevic, and Aidan Campbell took home the three stars of the game. Luca Grabas, playing extra minutes with Jake Hewitt out, earned FortisBC Energy Player of the Game. The Clippers play again on January 27, at home against the Powell River Kings. Tickets can be purchased at Nanaimoclippers.com or the Frank Crane box office on game day.