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Clippers look to fend off Raiders in semifinals

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The Dauphin Clippers hockey team is off to the Westman High School Hockey League’s semifinals after coming back from an early deficit to beat the Virden Golden Bears in their quarterfinal series, last week.
Virden opened the best-of-three series with a 3-2 win in Dauphin, last Tuesday.
Jeremy Larway, Christian Lansing and Nic Smith scored for Virden, while Riley Hammond had both Dauphin goals.
The Clippers evened the series with a 3-1 win in Virden, Saturday.
Brayden Broome scored twice and Logan Conrad had a single for Dauphin, while Brennan Williams netted the Virden goal.
In the third and deciding game in Dauphin, Sunday night, Hammond and Bryce Bonnett each scored twice and Conrad had a single and Bode Childs stopped every shot he saw in a 5-0 Clippers victory.
Childs played every game in the series for Dauphin, while Eric Reid did the same for Virden.
Clippers coach Trevor Robak said the series was reminiscent of last year’s first-round series against Deloraine where the Clippers lost game one and came back to win the series.
“From the first game of the playoffs all the way to this game, we’ve been getting better. We’ve been getting better period by period. And I could see that,” he said.
“Yeah, we didn’t have the outcome in the first game everybody, I think, expected. But we did get better as the game went on and we carried it on into the next game. And finally into this game, which showed on the scoreboard.”
The Clippers played a solid game from the goaltending out, Robak said, which was nice to see. He is at a loss, though, to explain why the Clippers got off to such a slow start in the series the last two years.
“I don’t know if it’s a nerves thing. Just mentally, we weren’t prepared. Once we settled into the series and we get our legs going, then we can build off it and get better as the series goes on,” he said.
Hammond opened the scoring in game three, just 42 seconds into the game. That, Robak said, was huge, especially against a goalie who played so well against them in game one.
“In game two, we started to get to him. He was starting to not control his rebounds as well. So getting to him early, I think, really took a lot of his confidence away,” he said.
“In game one we shot a lot of pucks at him, which gained him confidence.”
That was something the Clippers had to focus on, Robak added, making sure they were taking Reid’s confidence away.
“Not putting pucks into his crest. Putting pucks into areas where he couldn’t hold them and there were rebounds and he had to work for second saves. A lot of stuff we didn’t do in the first game,” he said.
Robak was pleased with the Clippers’ defensive play in the final two games against Virden, allowing just one goal.
“We played really well defensively. We played with a lot more confidence. We didn’t throw a lot of pucks away. In the last couple of games before that, we were really bad at throwing pucks blindly around the boards, rimming hard and not having wingers in position to pick them up,” he said.
The Clippers worked on that in practice and Robak noticed they were successful in keeping possession of the puck and getting it out of their own end.
The semifinals will be a rematch from last year when the Clippers lost in three games to the Killarney Raiders. Unlike last year, though, the Clippers will start the series on the road, though the dates have yet to be determined.
The Clippers won the only meeting of the regular season between the two teams, back on Nov. 23, in Killarney.
The Raiders were second in the league with 150 goals in 24 games, while the Clippers were fourth with 139 tallies.
Robak said the key for the Clippers will be to get traffic and pucks to the net against Killarney’s young goaltender.
“Just try not to run-and-gun with them. Play simple. Take care of the neutral zone with them, and I think we’ll do well. I think if we focus on that, we’ll be fine,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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