By: Dylan Webb
The SFU hockey team rolled into Nanaimo on Friday night in fourth place in the BCIHL standings with multiple games in hand on the rivals they trail in the standings. The team’s currently facing an uphill battle to secure home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, requiring a a 5–1 record over the remainder of the BCIHL season. With that in mind, the Clan arrived at the Nanaimo Ice Centre focused on taking it one game at a time.
After a delayed start due to the VIU (Vancouver Island University) Mariners’ celebration of their graduating class of seniors, the Clan unleashed an offensive assault early in the game and built up a lead they would never relinquish.
The first period saw the Clan jump out to a 2–0 lead on goals from team point leaders Mac Colasimone and Nic Holowko. Throughout the first, the team did a great job of using their team speed and maintaining team discipline.
While the Clan would continue their strong play into the first half of the second period and add two more goals to take a commanding 4–0 lead, the team allowed their emotions to get a bit out of control, which allowed the Mariners back into the game late in the second.
After a series of penalties and disorganized power-play attempts on behalf of the Clan, the Mariners pulled within two goals just before the end of the second period to set up an intense third in which the Clan would do their best to protect their two-goal lead and their faint hopes for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Fortunately for the Clan, goaltender Ryan Sandrin slammed the door on the Mariners’ offense in the third period to secure the 6–2 win. Sandrin stopped 35 of 37 shots to notch his sixth win in eight starts this year. While the Clan carried the play for most of the first half of the game, Sandrin had to be sharp with multiple big saves throughout the last half of the second and the third periods. His repeated strong performances in key games down the stretch this season appears to have solidified his position as the go-to goaltender for the Clan as the playoffs rapidly approach.
The Clan now face a quick turn around with their next game at 3 p.m on Monday at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. A big two points will be up for grabs on Monday that would go a long way toward securing the second playoff seed and home ice advantage in the first round for the Clan.
With this in mind, The Peak caught up with defenseman Daniel Nussipakynov, post-game, while he was riding the exercise bike to hear some of his thoughts on the team’s dominating performance. Asked what the biggest improvements were for the Clan in their win over VIU this Friday versus the loss to the Mariners last weekend, Nussipakynov pointed to the fact that “we came out flying with an awareness of the importance of the two points and with a stronger commitment to using our team speed and maintaining team discipline and emotional control.”
When asked how the team should approach the tall order of winning at least five of their remaining six games to secure home ice advantage in the first round, Nussipakynov noted that “every game is extremely crucial for us, so we have to take it one game at a time. Our end goal is capturing the BCIHL championship, so we are motivated by that goal while understanding the process required to get us there.”
The Clan will continue their drive for a second-place finish in the BCIHL standings on Family Day at home at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.