The Nanaimo Clippers appear to have fixed their Sunday afternoon blues.
For the last couple of seasons, the Clippers have struggled in home dates early on Sundays, that is until this past weekend, as they shut out the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-0 at Frank Crane Arena.
Jayson Argue made 29 saves for his third clean sheet of the season and Jacob Hanlon, Austin Dick, Taylor Grabowski, Scott Prier and Devin Brosseau all scored.
Riley Corbin allowed all five goals on 44 shots in the Trail net.
The win got Nanaimo (8-8-0-1) back to .500 through two months of this B.C. Hockey League season, as they continue to build off what head coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp views as improved play of late.
"It's a matter of trying to get more consistent as we move forward," he said. "Is it important? Yeah. But it's also just the 18th game of the year. This is just a process that continues. .. There are so many days for us to keep working on the game."
The Sunday afternoon struggles at home have been a perplexing issue for Vandekamp since he arrived in Nanaimo.
While he wouldn't go into the details after the game, he said they did change their preparation.
Hanlon says it all started on Saturday morning.
"We had a good team meeting at 10 a.m., then last night we had a team dinner, got home early, went out for a team breakfast this morning and got to the rink early," he said.
Hanlon's short-handed goal at 4:49 of the third period was a gimmie, but a big goal nonetheless.
He just followed up on a terrific individual effort by Korey Morgan, and the rebound just popped out to the rookie forward who was wide open and had a yawning cage staring him in the face. "He's always one of the hardest working players," said Vandekamp. "As I've told him, it's hard to be one of the hardest working players, it's a tough job, you've got to show up every day and be that guy."
The goal gave the Clippers a 3-0 lead and they rolled from there, scoring two power play goals in the final frame to stretch their lead out.
The game was physical, and got chippier the later the game went. After just three minor penalties in the first 20 minutes, the two teams combined for 43 minutes, two misconducts and one game misconduct the rest of the way.
The first 10 minutes of the third period were particularly choppy, with no flow. Nanaimo finished 2-for-9 with the man-advantage, while Trail was 0-for-4. Discipline was key for the Clippers as they put away the Smoke Eaters.
"It is pretty tough, but today the guys were all out there motivating each other, just lots of energy on the bench, and that helps to stay focused on the game," he said.
Brosseau typified this commitment to discipline. After getting knocked out of the game on what he called a head hit at the 4:58 mark of the second period, he returned later in the frame and then scored on a nice move in the third, driving the net, then tucking the puck five-hole on Corbin. "It's not only having about points," said Brosseau, who suffered a split lip on the play. "The win showed them, even if you have some dirty hits. .. that you're able to win. I think that's the best vengeance - winning."
The Clippers hit the road for three games in three nights this week, they are at the Powell River Kings (13-2-0-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m., and then are in Duncan on Sunday to play the Cowichan Valley Capitals (10-9-0-1) at 2 p.m.
© Copyright 2013