(Photo: Joshua Griffith)
*This was originally posted on April 20, 2022*
The Nanaimo Clippers punched their ticket to the 3rd round of the BCHL Playoffs on Tuesday night with a 1-0 win over the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs. Nanaimo had the brooms out to watch their team sweep away Chilliwack in 4 games. Cooper Black was the story of the night making 37 saves on 37 shots for his first shutout of the 2022 Playoffs. Keighan Gerrie scored the lone goal, his 5th of the postseason, to give Nanaimo the win late in the 3rd period.
The Clippers Come Out Firing In The 1st Period
The first period saw the Clippers come out the more aggressive team. They could send the opportunity to close out the series on home ice and not have to head back to Chilliwack for game 5. A funny note before the puck was even dropped Andrew Noel was given a 10-minute misconduct for saying something the referees didn’t like. It was a rough start as well as both teams seemed more interested to take the body than going for the puck.
Jack Seymour would take the first penalty of the game at the 4:28 mark of the 1st period for tripping. The Clippers would get several chances with the 6 on 5 man advantage but Grant Riley came up big. The home side would keep the pressure going on the powerplay and fire one off the post. Chilliwack was able to kill off the penalty and finally get their first shot of the game at the 10:13 mark of the 1st period. Tristan Fraser was right back in with another chance for Nanaimo but Riley shut the door once again and the score stayed 0-0.
Nanaimo would go back to the powerplay at 11:49 when Brady Milburn was called for cross-checking. The rough stuff from the start of the game would continue in front of the net after a shot from Nanaimo. Both Thomas Messineo and Jeremie Payant were given matching roughing penalties at 12:48. The visitors would kill off the penalty and have their best stretch of pressure in the period. The 1st period would move towards the end and Nanaimo hit another post off the rush with 3 minutes left.
Chilliwack would get their first chance on the powerplay to end the period as Jake Hewitt was called for tripping with 1:29 to go. Nanaimo was able to kill off the bulk of the man advantage as the period would come to an end tied 0-0. The Clippers had the edge in shots in the first with an 11-6 lead in shots and controlled a majority of the play. Nanaimo hit 2 posts in the 1st while Chilliwack hit 1 as the goalies were not only sharp but got a little bit of help in the 1st period.
The Chiefs Flip The Switch In The 2nd Period
The Chilliwack Chiefs started the second period on the powerplay with just 29 seconds but they managed 3 shots and set the tone for the 2nd period. The Clippers were able to weather the storm and kill off a tripping call to Hewitt but were on their heels right out of the gate. It was almost a carbon copy of the first period but for the Chiefs as Nanaimo wasn’t able to muster their first shot until almost 5 minutes into the period. It was a shot that looked to be going wide of the net anyways but Grant Riley snagged it down for the Whistle.
The Visiting side would continue on the attack but Cooper Black was playing very solid in the net for the Clippers. It was all Chiefs and they had one of their best chances with 8 and a half minutes to go in the period. Landyn Greatorex had a great chance for the Chiefs on the breakaway, he would go to the backhand but Cooper Black was equal to the task and made a fantastic save for the Clippers.
Nanaimo was forced to ice the puck which lead to a solid 2 minutes of zone time by the Chiefs as they worked the puck around. The Clippers did do a good job to keep things to the outside and limit the shots on Black. The home team would finally clear but would give up another partial breakaway with 6 minutes left in the period trying to keep the score 0-0. Chad Muller would rush in down the right side but once again Cooper Black was in the right position and was able to make the save.
The Clippers would get the majority of their 6 second period shots in the final 5 minutes. They would ramp up the play a bit and force Chilliwack to defend. Things really slowed down as the whistles would pick up to end the period as the Chiefs continued to go offside. The 2nd period would also end 0-0 with Chilliwack outshooting the Clippers 17-6 in the period.
Clippers Steal Out A Win In The 3rd Period
The 3rd period started exactly how the 2nd period left off, with the Chilliwack Chiefs taking it to the Clippers. Just 33 seconds into the period Jack Seymour was robbed on a nice cross-ice pass by Clippers goalie Cooper Black. Moments later Nanaimo defencemen Michael Craig would take a blatant holding call and the Chiefs would go to the powerplay with a chance to open the scoring just 1:08 into the 3rd period.
Both Mateo Mrsic and Cameron Johnson had great chances on the powerplay for the Chilliwack Chiefs. Cooper Black was able to hold strong between the pipes making 4 saves with his team down a man. The Clippers would kill off the penalty and then clog up the neutral zone through the next couple of minutes. It didn’t stop the Chiefs as they clearly wanted their season to continue beyond Tuesday night. They got back on the front foot once again and controlled the majority of play in the Clipper’s end.
It wasn’t until an offside was brought all the way back into the visiting end did the Clippers get any real relief. Like the 1st and 2nd periods, one team was dominant for the first 10 minutes. Nanaimo was finally able to get their first of three 3rd period shots 11 minutes into the final frame. Cooper Black would be called upon to save the day as Chilliwack would up the pressure. Brett Rylance would get a fantastic chance for the Chiefs but a great move but the Chilliwack forward was met with an even better save by the Clippers goalie.
It was a very slow period for the Nanaimo fans as the groans could be heard from the stands. Gerrie would get a nice chance on the doorstep but both goalies showed up to play in game 4 of the BCHL Coastal Semi-Finals. With just 7:20 left on the clock, it looked like Nanaimo had the chance they needed to break the 0-0 tie but the 2-on-1 was played perfectly by the Chilliwack defender and the puck moved back down the ice. The shots were 10-2 for the Chiefs with 5:36 to go in the 3rd period and it seemed more and more like the visiting side was going to force game 5.
But just as he has done ass postseason it seems Keighan Gerrie would come up with a massive goal for the Nanaimo Clippers. Brody Waters would steal the puck in the neutral zone and break off to the races. Instead of trying to drive the net he would wait and find a driving Gerrie who ripped a shot past Grant Riley for the 1-0 lead with just 4:30 to go in the 3rd period.
The Chilliwack chiefs wouldn’t go quietly into the Nanaimo night as they got right back on the attack. A long shot from the point and Black had to be positionally sharp to make the save he didn’t see. Chilliwack would call a time out with a minute to go and pull their goalie for the extra attacker. Nanaimo was able to keep things to the outside and Black was the last line of defense. Nanaimo would take their time out with under a minute to go to rest their defenders.
Whatever coach Colin Birkas said to his team in the timeout stuck with them as they were everywhere to kill off the final 30 seconds. The clock would read all zero’s as the Clippers would pin the puck in the corner and the Nanaimo fans could celebrate. It was a great performance from goalie Cooper Black who made 37 saves on 37 shots and has now stopped the last 72 of 73 shots he has faced. Keighan Gerrie has been on fire in the last two games scoring the only 3 goals for the Clippers in their two wins at home.
The Out Of This World Player Of The Game
If there is any doubt to anyone who the star was from Tuesday night then you missed huge chunks of the game. The Nanaimo Clippers only had a chance to win late thanks to the phenomenal play of Cooper Black in the net. The Clippers goalie made 37 saves and 31 in the final two periods to give his team the chance to close out the series.
The Clippers move onto the 3rd round of the BCHL playoffs and will await the winner of the Alberni Bulldogs and Langley Rivermen. Nanaimo will get a bit of rest as that series sits at 2-1 for Langley with game 4 going Wednesday, April 20th in Port Alberni. Make sure to check back to the Area 51 Sports Network for more coverage of the Nanaimo Clippers as they make their run towards the Fred Page Cup. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JoshuaGriffith0 for even more coverage about your Nanaimo Clippers.