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Nanaimo Clippers make trade deadline moves to contend in Coastal Conference

Team scheduled to play three games in five days starting Wednesday, Jan. 19, on the road

The Nanaimo Clippers weren’t able to beat a first-place foe this weekend, but the team added pieces at the BCHL trade deadline and will keep its eye on the top of the standings.

The Clippers lost 4-2 to the Langley Rivermen on Friday, Jan. 14, at Frank Crane Arena, in Nanaimo’s first home game of 2022.

The Clippers got down early and though they ended up outshooting the Rivermen, weren’t able to catch up. Tristan Fraser and Austin Spiridakis scored for the home team.

Earlier in the week, the Clippers rounded out their 2021-22 roster with two more trades, adding a forward and a defenceman without subtracting any players from their current roster.

Nanaimo was able to acquire “sandpaper-type” forward Luca Grabas from the Chilliwack Chiefs in exchange for future considerations.

“Grabas is a gritty 200-foot player with a strong work ethic. He also possesses a high hockey IQ and above-average skill set,” said Colin Birkas, Clippers associate coach, in a press release.

The Clippers also filled a need, adding 20-year-old veteran defenceman Alek Sukunda from the Coquitlam Express, also for future considerations. Sukunda has BCHL and WHL experience and Darren Naylor, Clippers coach and GM, said the blueliner will “fit in nicely” in the team’s top four.

“He plays a physical style game, makes a good first pass and can play against others team’s top forwards,” Naylor said.

Clippers owner Wes Mussio said the team’s trade deadline additions will help “as we push for first place in the conference and a long playoff run.”

GAME ON … The Clippers visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Nanaimo then has two home games next weekend, facing the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, and then the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 2 p.m. at Frank Crane.

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