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Clippers provide star power

B.C. Hockey League’s 37th All-Star Game – played Wednesday at South Surrey Arena – featured all the things expected of such mid-season showdowns.

There were tic-tac-toe passing plays, a handful of highlight-reel saves, lobster defence (where everyone pinches), and, fittingly, a lot of goals.

BCHL’s Interior Conference squad won for the first time in three years, defeating Coastal Conference 9-7.

“There wasn’t a lot of hitting out there, that’s for sure,” said Brendan Mason, Nanaimo Clippers all-star. “It was more just skating, moving the puck quick and fancy dangles, stuff like that.”

Led by Merritt Centennials forwards Wade MacLeod and Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who each had two goals, Interior Conference staked an early lead, making it 7-2 at one point during the second period.

The Coastal Conference fought back late in the second, and kept momentum going in the third to bring the deficit within one, but they could get no closer. Pierro-Zabotel’s second goal iced the victory.

The Burnaby Express pair of Kyle Turris and Tyler McNeely were also among the game’s best. The University of Wisconsin-bound Turris potted two goals and added an assist, while McNeely added one goal and one helper.

Mason and Matt Irwin each had an assist in the game, while the third Clippers all-star, Erick Belanger, was held off the score sheet. Irwin and Belanger, both defencemen, admitted to pinching recklessly.

“Oh yeah, there were times when there were no D-men left on the blueline,” said Irwin. “We just didn’t have a worry in the world.”

Their only worry was offence.

“I was trying to jump into as many plays as I could, that’s for sure,” Belanger said. “I had a couple of opportunities but didn’t get any points, unfortunately.”

Irwin was asked if he tried to showcase himself with fancy individual plays like dipsy-doodles.

“I don’t know if I can do any dipsy-doodles,” said the power-play point man. “You just go out there and have fun and leave it up to the guys that can do that, I guess.”

Third star of the game was Cowichan Valley Capital Winston DayChief, who finished with two goals; second star honours went to Turris, and MacLeod was the No. 1 star.

Mason’s assist came on a DayChief goal, with Alberni Valley Bulldog Jordan Kremyr drawing the other assist. Island rivals unite – just for one night.

“It’s back to business now and you’ve got to learn to hate them again,” said Irwin. “It’s definitely a weird situation.”

-with files from Greg Sakaki

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