The Nanaimo Clippers have settled on their final roster for their Western Canada Cup run. Whether the Clippers win or lose from here on out, it will be with the group of guys they have right now in the locker room.
Last Thursday’s trade deadline brought roster reinforcements, with defenceman Brock Maschmeyer and forwards Aaron Hadley, Garrett Brandsma and Corey Renwick coming aboard.
“There wasn’t very many teams making a lot of changes, and considering what we had to work with in regards to assets, etc., I think we did really well,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers general manager. “We made ourselves a much better team than we were the day before the deadline.”
Maschmeyer brings a ton of experience to the Clippers’ blueline. The 5-foot-8, 170 pounder has almost 250 games of junior A hockey experience in Alberta, plus more than 40 playoff games.
The 20-year-old had 12 goals and 44 points in 60 games last season with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
“He’s a pretty good offensive player, so sometimes people think of that guy as being an offensive defenceman – he’s an all-around warrior,” Vandekamp said.
Maschmeyer said he wasn’t expecting to be traded, but was always aware it was a possibility.
He’s been in junior long enough to have seen plenty of teammates come and go, so he can handle the transition to a new league and a new team.
“It’s really just getting involved with the team and talking to new players and figuring out who they are and how they play,” he said. “And it just gets easier every day.”
Hadley also brings big-game experience. He captained Team Canada West at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge and played in a Royal Bank Cup with the Vernon Vipers.
“That experience is going to really lend well once he gets comfortable here,” said Vandekamp.
Aaron Hadley’s former team, the Vernon Vipers, traded away all its top scorers at the deadline and Hadley said he’s very happy to end up in Nanaimo.
“It’s a great organization, great coaching staff, lots of good players here,” said the 19-year-old. “And they kind of play my style of hockey.”
The 6-foot-3, 200 pounder from Castlegar is hard to play against, said Mike Vandekamp, which is a trait the GM likes all his players to possess.
"[I'm] a bigger forward that can work hard and chip in pucks and I also like to chip in offensively," Hadley said. "I just need to go out there and play my game and that will be beneficial for the team."
Garrett Brandsma had the best debut of any of the new Clippers, scoring a goal Friday in his very first period of hockey in Nanaimo.
The 19-year-old from Powell River said it wasn’t too hard to plunge right into game action with a new team.
“It’s just like jumping into a camp, playing with new players,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to adapt to things like that.”
Brandsma had been a top scorer with the junior B Victoria Cougars and could have stayed with that team, but he was ready to move up a league.
“That’s your goal growing up, and it finally happened,” he said.
Vandekamp said the 5-foot-11, 160 pounder is deceptively strong.
“He plays with a lot of spirit, he plays with a lot of guts and determination,” said the GM. "He kind of brings a little bit of everything."
Like Brandsma, Renwick also decided to make the jump from junior A. He knows he won't get the same sort of ice time with the Clippers that he got with the Nanaimo Buccaneers, but he'll try to play an energy role and work hard.
"He's all about heart and soul and hard work and we knew that when we picked him up," Vandekamp said. "He's a big body for a young kid, skates well … As he learns more about playing at this level I think he's going to be a real good player."
The 6-foot, 170 pounder from Nanoose Bay said he expected that junior A teams might show some interest, but he didn't think the Clippers would be the ones to do so.
"I was very excited," he said, and added that it was an easy decision to jump up to the next level.
"Playing junior A and getting into the league, you're hosting the Western Canadians, so it makes all the sense in the world," he said.
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Vipers this Friday (Jan. 18) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena, then visit the Powell River Kings on Saturday … Look for another Clippers article on Friday on the News Bulletin's Clippers Central page.