Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL communications
Tonight – Nanaimo Clippers (16-11-3-2) vs. Victoria Grizzlies (14-14-3-1)
7 p.m. at The Q Centre in Victoria
Presented by the BCIHL
This will be the fifth meeting of the season between these Island Division rivals. Victoria leads the season series 2-1-0-1. The teams first met this season on Sept. 16 where Nanaimo cruised to a 5-2 victory at home, led by a two-point night from forward Parker Colley. Victoria evened the season series on Oct. 7 with a 3-2 road win. Grizzlies forward Ethan Nother scored the game-winning goal with just over five minutes to go in the third period.
On Oct. 25, Victoria went down 1-0 early in the second period, then got four straight goals from Lach Hadley, Cole Noble, Nother and Lucas Clark, to win the game 4-1. Goaltender Zachary Rose stopped 37 of 38 shots to get the win. In the most recent meeting on Nov. 24, the teams played to a 2-2 tie. Nanaimo goalie Taz Burman faced 50 shots and made 48 saves in 70 minutes of game time to preserve the tie.
Nanaimo’s Jake Harris comes into tonight with points in his last eight games. He’s scored six goals and chipped in with three assists over that span. This is the third time this season he’s had a point streak of at least eight games. His teammate David Silye is riding a six-game streak. He has a goal and seven assists in those games. Harris is tied for 11th in the BCHL with 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 28 games. Jordan Wharrie is in the top-20 in league scoring among defencemen with 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 32 games. Clippers goalie Taz Burman is second in the BCHL with a .935 save percentage and third in the league with a goals-against average of 2.06.
Victoria forward Alex Newhook leads his team with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 26 games. He’s followed closely by T.J. Friedmann (10 goals, 16 assists) and Jamie Rome (nine goals, 17 assists) who have 26 points each. Grizzlies forward Justin Michaelian leads the team with 13 goals on the year. Dayne Finnson is tied for seventh in assists among BCHL defencemen with 18. Goaltender Zachary Rose is eighth in the league with a .916 save percentage. The Grizzlies will be without Rose tonight who is away with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. Backup goalie Shawn Parkinson is also out with an injury, so Kurtis Chapman will get his second straight start tonight.
What’s at Stake
The teams are separated by five points in the Island Division standings. Nanaimo is second in the division with 37 points and trail the division-leading Powell River Kings by three points. Tonight is the first of seven in a row on the road for the Clippers. Victoria is in third place in the division with 32 points, ten clear of the fourth-place Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Grizzlies have lost their last five contests and this is their first game back home after four straight on the road.
Victoria Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon on facing Nanaimo tonight:
“They work hard. Their goaltender has had some success as of late. I think they play a smart game, a simple game and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. You have to really try to capitalize when the opportunities knock. We need to put a 60-minute game together. We need to finish on our chances…and outwork a team that’s known for their work ethic. It’s a big challenge, but certainly if we don’t bring our A-game then it’s going to be a tough night.”
Didmon on playing the Clippers for the fifth time this season:
“I think it gives both teams advantages. I think both teams are evolving in different ways. When you get to know each other, when you get to know their style of play, you can prepare your players a little bit for what to expect, what to be careful with and what to create opportunities through.”
Didmon on playing without their top-two goalies:
“There’s always communication issues, so we want to make sure we’re communicative in our own zone when (starting goalie Kurtis Chapman) is playing the puck.”
Nanaimo Clippers head coach Mike Vandekamp on facing Victoria tonight:
“(They’ve got) speed. They have lots of offense in their attack, their D are active and mobile and they have a good power play. We have to get off to a better start (than last night’s 4-1 loss to Powell River). We have to be ready from the drop of the puck tonight. We definitely need to have better special teams. It’s a real big factor in every game, so it’s our goal to go 100 per cent on the penalty kill tonight and hopefully our power play can get back on track. It’s been pretty good lately and we need it to be good again.”
Vandekamp on playing the Grizzlies for the fifth time this year:
“We haven’t been big on making adjustments based on who we’re playing. There’s no mystery to how they play and there’s no mystery for them on how we play, so the teams know each other well enough. We kind of know what to expect, it just comes down to effort and execution at this stage.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCHIL.ca.