Scott Prier has been named the new face of the Nanaimo Clippers. The 20-year-old defenceman was officially announced as captain of the B.C. Hockey league club on Wednesday, while forwards Brendan Taylor and Devin Brosseau and defenceman Colton Dahlen were named assistant captains.
Prier is in his first season with the club and takes over the role from Trevor Ftizgerald who wore the 'C' for two seasons.
"It's a huge honour for any team, especially the Nanaimo Clippers, because there's so much pride in the team," said Prier.
Prier was signed in the off-season by the Clippers to bolster their blue-line, and he has done that through the first nine games of the season. The six-foot, 185-pound defenceman plays in all situations for the club and has three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games.
But it was his leadership that stood out immediately, as he made a seamless move into the dressing room after three seasons with the LaSalle Vipers of the Greater Ontario Junior B Hockey League, and already has the respect of his teammates.
"He's comfortable in his own shoes," said Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp. "He's mature and confident and I think that's really important in leadership. .. it's something that we were looking for to come out in somebody in our group."
This is the first time in his career he has been named captain of a hockey club, but has worn an 'A' just about every season and is comfortable in the role.
"It's been easy, the guys are great, they've welcomed me with open arms, like a brother since the first day I got here for camp," he said, noting past LaSalle captains like D.J. Turner and Matt Beaudoin played a big role in his leadership development.
His teammates have taken notice. Taylor, 18, says he is a good leader and has been a positive influence on the club.
For the Nanaimo forward, being given a letter in his third season with the team was an honour. It is part of his expanding role with the Clippers, playing big minutes offensively and contributing in many facets of the game. The six-foot, 190-pound Taylor is tied for the team lead with nine points (3-6-9) in nine games.
"It's definitely a good feeling, I'm just taking another step in my game and I have to be a leader now," he said. "It's been awesome so far, I just have to keep it up and try and be consistent with it."
Taylor is also the only member of the leadership group that is local, following in the footsteps of Kyle Kramer, Brenden Forbes and Greg Fraser in recent years.
"It shows that we have local area players that can not only play on the team but can contribute on the team as leaders," said Vandekamp, who is hoping this role will help Taylor take the next step in his development as a top player.
Taylor's linemate Brosseau, 18, is not only new to the team this year, he is new to the province. But that hasn't stopped the St. Lambert, Que., native from coming in and making big impact in his first season since being acquired for future considerations from the Longueuil College-Francais in the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League.
The six six-foot-two, 185-pound winger has four goals and five assists in nine games.
"We really liked his positive attitude," said Vandekamp. "He's really committed to the game, he loves being at the rink, he loves the game. We want guys here that love the game and he represents that 100 per cent."
Dahlen, 20, like Taylor, is in his third year with the Clippers. He has been a productive member of the defence since he arrived two years ago in a trade with the Westside Warriors.
Despite missing a chunk of last year with a concussion, he still scored 16 points (3-13-16) in 37 games. The five-foot-11, 180-pound blue-liner has four points (3-1-4) in nine games this year, and was thought to be one of the front runners for the captaincy.
"Dahlen represents more of the veteran side of things. .. as well he has taken on a real leadership responsibility since camp opened," said Vandekamp. "His confidence now is definitely there."
The Clippers (4-5-0-0) are at Bear Mountain tonight to play the Victoria Grizzlies (4-5-1-0) at 7:15 p.m. They are coming off three straight losses and are hoping to break back into the win column against one of their biggest rivals. But they are going to have to find a way to put a full game together.
"I'm looking for work ethic consistently for 60 minutes and focus for 60 minutes," said Vandekamp. "We've played really well in every game at times and we just haven't been able to maintain it for 60 minutes."
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