The Nanaimo Clippers shut down the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Game 2 to tie the first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
The Clips shut out the ‘Dogs 4-0 on Sunday night at Frank Crane Arena. From Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp’s perspective, “it was more like a playoff game” out there.
“We played harder, there was more spirit to our game, we physically committed to being on the inside better, won more battles, had the puck more,” he said. “Those were some of the things we desperately needed to do.”
Will Reilly scored the game-winning goal midway through the first period, sneaking in from the blueline on a power play after his teammates passed the puck all around the zone. Vandekamp said scoring the first goal of the game was big for his players, who felt pressure knowing they were trailing the series at the time.
Chris Dodero scored in the second period, Sheldon Rempal added an insurance goal late in the third and then Matt Hoover, into an empty net, rounded out the scoring.
“I thought we kept forechecking in the third, which was really important,” Vandekamp said. “We were staying on our toes, we didn’t sit back.”
Clippers goalie Evan Johnson made 26 saves for the shutout.
“I thought we played really well,” Johnson said. “Defensively our Ds were helping me out a lot and that really makes my job a lot easier.”
Brody Claeys stopped 31 pucks at the other end of the ice for the Bulldogs.
The series now moves to Port Alberni.
“It is good to know that we have won there,” Vandekamp said. “It’s a hard building to play in and always has been, so we’ve got to dig deep. The odd-numbered games are very important in a seven-game series.”
GAME ON … Game 3 will be Tuesday (March 8) at 7 p.m. at Port Alberni’s Weyerhaeuser Arena and Game 4 is Wednesday, also a 7 p.m. start at Alberni. Next home action for the Clippers is Game 5, which goes Friday (March 11) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.