When the Nanaimo Clippers lost a few players at the end of the BCHL’s exhibition season, head coach and general manager Darren Naylor needed to find reinforcements.
Naylor then signed 19-year-old Keighan Gerrie from Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The Clippers are one of four teams competing in the Port Alberni pod, renewing rivalries with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Cowichan Valley Capitals, and Victoria Grizzlies.
It didn’t take long for Gerrie to find the back of the net, scoring in his first BCHL game, a 4-3 victory over the Grizzlies on Apr. 3.
He noted it’s nice to get back in a competitive game situation after the Clippers completed their 14-day quarantine prior to the season.
“The quarantine felt like it was never going to end. After that final day when we got our test results back, it was a pretty big relief and we got on the ice that day so it’s been good.”
The 19-year-old is no stranger to offense, posting some gaudy numbers as a member of the Thunder Bay North Stars of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. He tallied 153 points in 107 regular-season games.
In 2018-19, Gerrie was part of a team that went 49-5-2 and secured the Bill Salonen Cup after the North Stars dispatched the Red Lake Miners in five games. In 10 playoff games, Gerrie collected 16 points.
“The coach in Thunder Bay put me in a lot of good spots and then the coaches here (in Nanaimo) are giving me a lot of the same opportunities,” said Gerrie.
Playing in front of an empty arena takes a little bit of getting used to as well. “It’s different that’s for sure. Usually, you like to hear the fans cheer you on after you score a goal or provide a big hit but we are trying to provide our own energy out there.”
Gerrie de-committed from Bowling Green University and is now set to suit up for Miami University in Ohio.
Lavery making his mark as a 16-year-old
In addition to Gerrie, Naylor stayed close to home for one of his latest recruits and signed 16-year-old power-forward Luke Lavery from the North Island Silvertips U18 program.
Last season, the Nanaimo product notched 16 points in 38 games during his rookie campaign.
“Everything has been going right here. I have been getting a good amount of ice time and when I get out there I do the best I can to contribute to the team’s success.”
“Our line has had some good chemistry and there have been tons of development at practice with the older guys, you learn a lot of things.”
He sees this 20-game pod season as a stepping stone for the upcoming fall with the anticipation of playing a full schedule.
“It will be good to learn about how to play or be successful in this league. The coach wants me to go out there and battle hard in the defensive zone and the offense will come.”
Playoffs or no playoffs, the 16-year-old says the goal is to win as many games as possible to build up momentum for the 2021-22 campaign.