The Nanaimo Clippers celebrated the return of BCHL hockey to the city with an outburst of goals and an overwhelming win.
The Clippers defeated the Powell River Kings by an 8-1 score in Nanaimo’s home opener Friday, Oct. 15, at Frank Crane Arena.
Fans were excited to see junior A hockey’s return, as the building was sold out as far as pandemic capacity limits would allow.
“Playing in front of a big crowd, I think we used it to our advantage and had some energy,” said Darren Naylor, Clippers coach.
The team was also sparked by the return of forward Sean Donaldson, who had headed south during the pandemic to play in the United States Hockey League, but decided to return to B.C. and re-joined the Clippers this week. In his first game back in the orange and black, he scored on his first shot one minute into the first period, then added two more for a hat trick by the midway point of the game.
“The energy this building brings really helps the boys out,” Donaldson said. “We got off to a hot start, a couple quick goals, but I think we played a good all-around game, played well defensively and things were clicking.”
Ethan Mistry added a pair for the Clippers and Charles Tardif, Keighan Gerrie and Kai Daniells were other scorers. Cooper Black made 27 saves for the win in goal.
Naylor said Donaldson is “part of the fabric” of the Clippers and was welcomed back, and will be expected to put up a lot of numbers and be a leader. Donaldson said the hat trick in the opener “felt amazing” but knows it was part of a single win and there are more goals ahead.
“I saw that the team was really good and I’m glad I can come and help the team,” he said. “We’re four lines deep, we’ve got a lot of veterans … a lot of guys playing the right way and we’re a tight-knit group that wants to win together.”
Nanaimo has now scored 18 goals over its first three games of the season, all wins.
“We have a different team here than in years past,” Naylor said. “This is a team that’s highly skilled offensively … we have such a high offensive IQ that we can make some plays and capitalize.”