Left picture: #7 Ethan Scardina collects the puck from a scrum along the boards.
Right picture: #31 Landon Pavlisin makes an awkward save.
NANAIMO — The Clippers battled, they clawed and scratched, but couldn’t get a result against the Merritt Centennials on Saturday. Merritt won the game 5-3 in front of large crowd of 1678 at Frank Crane Arena.
There was no scoring in the first period with solid goaltending from the Clippers Landon Pavlisin and former Clipper Austin Roden.
In the second, the Centennials jumped out in front 2-0 on goals by Nick Granowicz and Matthew Kopperud in the first 1:40. From there the two teams literally traded goals the rest of the night.
AP Dillon Maher got his first goal with the Clippers to make the score 2-1, but then Brady Zeimer floated a shot through traffic to restore the two goal advantage for the visitors. Clipper captain Marcus Mitchell scored his fifth goal in four games when he went bar down to tighten the score again. Kopperud blasted his second goal of the game behind Pavlisin in the last minute of the second period to give the Cents a 4-2 advantage after 40 minutes.
A deflection goal by Matt Mosher once again brought Nanaimo within a goal, and led to some solid shifts of pressure in front of the Merritt goal, but Payton Matsui put home an insurance marker late in regulation time to give the Centennials a 5-3 win.
Merritt won both games in the season series as they recorded back to back 5-3 wins on a Island Division road trip that started Friday in Powell River.
Nanaimo only had two power plays in the game and went 0/2. In the last three games combined the Clippers have only been on the man advantage five times.
They were a perfect 3/3 on the penalty kill.
Saturday’s Three Stars were Matthew Kopperud (2 goals), Matt Mosher (1 goal), and Payton Matsui (1 goal, 1 assist).
Nanaimo now hits the road for four straight games in Vernon, Chilliwack, and Surrey next weekend, and then on to Victoria on Feb 22.
The regular season finale will be at home versus the Powell River Kings on Feb 23.
Saturday’s results mean Nanaimo will finish in third place in the Island Division.