Bucks come up on short end of heavyweight showcase tilt with Nanaimo Clippers

📸: Garrett James Photography

The Cranbrook Bucks faced the Nanaimo Clippers on Wednesday in their second and final game at the 2022 BCHL Showcase. It was the second all-time matchup between the cross-conference foes, with the Bucks taking the lone previous matchup by a 4-1 score in Cranbrook on Oct. 30 of last year.

Tuesday’s affair came as advertised in a tight-checking affair that had a playoff-like intensity between two teams expecting to experience long postseason runs next spring. Nanaimo tallied the only goal of the opening period when forward Kai Daniels scored his team-leading sixth of the season on the power-play at 14:54, and the Clippers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Bucks answered back early in the second stanza when their own leading-scorer Jack Silich found the back of the net with his seventh of the season from Bryce Sookro and Cam Kungle to tie the game. It was Silich’s fourth goal of the showcase event, after he tallied a hat-trick in Cranbrook’s 9-2 win over Cowichan on Monday.

Nanaimo would not only regain its lead, but add to it as well, with Brody Waters and Jake Hewitt tallying at 6:48 and 11:22 of the second period, respectively, and the Clippers were up 3-1. The Bucks cut the deficit in half before the end of the middle frame, with Carsyn Good tallying his first of the season at 16:24 to make it a 3-2 game. The goal was assisted by Kungle and Silich, who each recorded their second point of the contest.

Nanaimo showed why it is a perennial force in the BCHL, locking down defensively and not allowing Cranbrook to get anything going offensively. Even after three straight minutes of power-play time including one minute with a 5-on-3 advantage late in the contest, the Bucks could not get back on even terms. With goaltender Nathan Airey pulled for the Cranbrook net for an extra attacker, Daniels tallied his second of the game to seal a 4-2 win for the Clippers.

Airey stopped 31 of 34 Nanaimo shots in a losing effort, while Shane Shelest turned aside 35 of the 37 shots he saw in the Clippers’ net to earn third star honours in the win.

Silich was named the game’s second star following his one goal, one assist effort, while Kungle assisted on both Bucks goals for a two-point night of his own.

The loss ended Cranbrook’s modest two-game win streak, and dropped its overall record to 6-3-0 on the season. The win was Nanaimo extended its win-streak to five in a row, and improved to 7-1-0 overall this year.

The official game boxscore can be seen here courtesy of the BCHL website, and a game recap from the Bucks website is here.

Cranbrook is back in action at home on Friday night when the Powell River Kings make their first ever trip to Western Financial Place.

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