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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Clippers take 3-1 series lead with 3-1 Game 4 win

Tonight's Game Report is brought to you courtesy of the Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel 

The BEST WESTERN PLUS Barclay Hotel, the largest full facility hotel in Port Alberni, BC. When staying with us there is no need to give up conveniences you are used to. You can discover treasures to take home at the Alberni Harbour Quay, and then browse our onsite Cold Beer, Wine Store and liquor store or retreat to our Stamps Cafe or Pastimes Sports Bar and Grill to enjoy a snack or to watch the game on our big screen TV. Then, relax in our sauna or pool before settling in our luxurious accommodations to enjoy the vintage wine picked up earlier. That's when you will truly understand why the tranquil setting of our hotel has been called the perfect place to call home. If traveling on business, our Port Alberni Hotel boasts over 4500 square feet of meeting space in four rooms that are perfect for small conventions, banquets, parties, meetings and weddings. AV equipment and catering are also available.

A good start for the Clippers, while the Bulldogs looked tight out of the gate. The Clippers ran up an early 7-2 lead in shots, and had a good amount of solid chances in tight on Brody Claeys that he turned aside, most notably on Sheldon Rempal just a minute into the game as he made a Bulldog defender miss before dancing in on goal. The Bulldogs would push back and get their feet under them as the period wore on, but were unable to generate any Grade A scoring chances although they did have a few rebound opportunities but unfortunately no support in the neighborhood to capitalize on it. The Clippers would take a 1-0 lead just over thirteen minutes into the game in somewhat controversial fashion as a cross-crease pass was knocked down at the back door by Troy MacTavish. In the process of going post to post, Brody Claeys would clearly knock the net off - unintentionally,  by a couple of inches before the puck went in the net. The goal would still stand however, despite Referee Hasret Sidhu being directly in front of the dislodged post. There would be no complaints from the Bulldog side of the puck. Lucas Finner would draw the only assist on it at 13:49 of the first. The Clippers would appear to have possibly gone ahead three minutes later on a net drive, but again when pushing off the net came off and if the puck indeed went in, this time it was waved off. Shots favoured the Clippers 15-11 through 20 minutes.

The Bulldogs had a good initial push into the offensive zone to start the second, but the Clippers pushed right back and won a series of draws to run up a 6-0 edge in shots before the period was three minutes old. The Dogs would bend and not break, and went end-to-end and tied the game as Ryan Finnegan fired a cross ice pass out of the left corner to Troy Dobbs at the top of the right circle. He would fire a slap shot on net through traffic that was stopped by Evan Johnson, but he couldn't control the rebound as Adam Donnelly batted it home from in tight to make it a 1-1 game at 3:36 of the second. On the next sequence Chris Schutz would put a shot on net from the right circle and stumble upon it's release and fall over top of a fallen Kale Bennett. With Schutz on his knees into the end boards, Bennett would get back to his feet and his Schutz twice from behind into the wall. Jordan Sandhu would come to his defence, and hit Bennett from behind. Sandhu would draw an initial minor on the play, that was later changed to a major while Kale Bennett drew a minor for roughing. It didn't stay four-aside for long however, as less than a minute later Yanni Kaldis drew a goalie interference call on a net drive. On the delayed penalty the Bulldogs raced up ice on a 3 on 1 rush where Evan Johnson made a beautiful save going from his left to right to rob Chris Schutz with his blocker on a one-timer that appeared to be labelled top corner, short-side. The Bulldogs would have several great looks on the short 4 on 3 power play, but couldn't find the net before then killing off the remaining two minutes plus of the major penalty. The Clippers would take a 2-1 lead late in the period, again in controversial fashion as Rhett Willcox took an errant stick high in the face from Sheldon Rempal that neither of the Officials saw, or chose to call. With Willcox doubled over checking his chicklets, Sean Buchanan would walk in tight to the left side of the net and snap a wrist shot top corner, long-side over the glove of Claeys. Sheldon Rempal drew the only assist on it at 15:32 of the second for a 2-1 Nanaimo lead after two periods. Shots favoured the Bulldogs 14-13 in the period, for a 28-25 Clipper lead after 40.

The third period would start with the Bulldogs on the power play, but it didn't last long as the centre ice Official would call a tripping penalty on a battle behind the Nanaimo net, no where near the standard that the players had come to expect with how the first 40 minutes of the game were called - or not called, perhaps. In the end it would be a big call as seconds later it was a 3-1 game as a Bulldogs defender walked deep and turned it over, and the back-check wasn't near good enough as Nolan Aibel walked to the net down the right wing on a 2 on 1 and delayed before snapping it through the legs of Claeys. Assists on the play went to Sean Buchanan and Yanni Kaldis at 1:38 of the third. The Bulldogs would kill off the penalty to keep in the game, and then another penalty kill on another call that defied the standard or lack thereof on an Eric Margo hit. They were handed another penalty at the midway point of the period, and yet again came up with a kill to stay alive, with Brody Claeys coming up with a desperation cross-crease diving save to keep his team within two goals. The Bulldogs would earn a power play with six minutes in change to play on a hit that truth be told didn't appear to be worthy of a penalty either. They were unable to generate much, with the Clippers deserving some credit but the Bulldogs also making poor decisions and failing to win any battles to give them a chance to work the puck in the zone. The Bulldogs would gamble with just over three minutes to play and pull their goalie with an attacking zone draw but the Clippers would continue to shut them down and the Dogs continued to struggle to get any momentum as the game ended in a 3-1 final.

Third period shots favoured the Clippers 14-4 for a game total of 42-29 with Evan Johnson picking up the win while Brody Claeys took the loss. The Dogs went 0 for 3 on the power play while the Clippers went 0 for 4.

With the win, the Clippers take a 3-1 series lead and have a chance to advance Friday night when they host Game 5, as the Bulldogs will fight to keep their season alive and force a Game 6 back at the Dog Pound on Saturday night.

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