FRANK CRANE ARENA
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ADDRESS

2300 Bowen Road

Nanaimo, BC  V9T 6E9

 

ARENA WEBSITE

 

OPENED - 1976

 

CAPACITY - Seating for 2,297

 

DESCRIPTION

 

Frank Crane Arena is part of the Beban Park Complex which includes a second ice rink (Cliff McNabb Arena), a swimming pool, pitch and putt golf, tennis courts, BMX track and playing fields. It is home to the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and Nanaimo Timbermen of the Western Lacrosse Association.

On January 3, 1976, Frank Crane Arena (originally called the Beban Park Recreation Centre) opened with a hockey game between the Nanaimo Oldtimers and the Mainland Oldtimers.

 

Nanaimo Clippers

 

The Nanaimo Clippers joined the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1972. Cliff McNabb founded the Clippers and continued as their president/GM. After three seasons playing out of the now-demolished downtown Civic Arena, they moved to Frank Crane Arena in 1976. The first Clippers game at the new arena took place on January 7, 1976, with an exhibition matchup against the Victoria Cougars. The 1,100 fans in attendance watched Victoria defeat Nanaimo 8-3.

 

Throughout the 1970s, the Clippers were the farm team for the Cougars. Barry Pederson, Gary Lupul, Geordie Robertson, Torrie Robertson, Greg Adams, Mel Bridgman and Rick Lapointe are just a few of the Cougar greats who started their junior career in Nanaimo.

 

Larry McNabb, Cliff’s brother, coached the Clippers to three straight BCHL championships (now known as the Fred Page Cup) from 1976 to 1978. They won the 1978 Championship when the Penticton Vees forfeited the final series after three games to protest Nanaimo’s rough and violent play.

John Newberry set the single-season BCHL scoring record with 185 points as a rookie in 1979/80. Since then, that mark has only been surpassed once when Brett Hull collected 188 points in 1983-84 with the Penticton Knights.

In 1982, to avoid competing with the Nanaimo Islanders of the Western Hockey League, Clippers owner Reg Midgley relocated the franchise to Esquimalt for the 1982-83 season. After low attendance in Esquimalt, the franchise moved back to Nanaimo in February 1983. They finished the season at Civic Arena and have been a permanent fixture in Nanaimo ever since.

 

After a twenty-six year drought, the Clippers captured their fourth Fred Page Cup in 2004 and fifth cup in 2007.

Darren Naylor is in his third year as the Clippers head coach. He played two years with the Victoria Cougars from 1987-89, appearing in 129 games and scoring 101 points. Assistant coach Bob Foglietta scored 36 goals in 36 games for the Cougars in 1987/88

 

Nanaimo Islanders – Western Hockey League

 

In 1982, William Zeitlin and Real Turcotte purchased the Billings Bighorns and moved the franchise to Nanaimo for the 1982-83 season. The team only played one year at Frank Crane Arena, finishing in fifth place with a record of 20 wins, 51 losses and one time. At year-end, the Islanders were sold and moved to New Westminster to begin the 1983-84 campaign. The franchise moved again in 1989 to Kennewick, Washington and is now the Tri-City Americans.

 

Nanaimo Islanders Alumni

 

Eight members of the 1982-83 Nanaimo Islanders went on to play in the National Hockey League - Mark Lamb, Jim McGeough, Pokey Reddick, Bob Rouse, Vern Smith, Rocky Trottier, Alfie Turcotte and Richard Zemlak.

 

Alfie Turcotte - Turcotte's father Real was the coach/owner of the Islanders. After 36 games with Nanaimo, he was traded to the Portland Winterhawks. Portland went on to win the 1983 Memorial Cup with Turcotte selected as tournament MVP. That summer he was a first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens and went on to an eighteen-year pro career that included 112 NHL games. After retiring in 1999, he has been a skills coach for Nashville, Carolina, Columbus and Atlanta. His son, Alex, was a 2019 first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings.

 

Mark Lamb – Played 30 games with the Islanders before being traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers in 1983. Drafted 72nd overall in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, Lamb appeared in 403 NHL games and won a Stanley Cup with Edmonton in 1990. He went into coaching after his playing career and spent six years as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars. In 2006/07 Lamb was hired by the Swift Current Broncos as head coach/general manager and held that position for seven years. He is currently the general manager of the Prince George Cougars.

 

NHL Alumni born in Nanaimo

 

Wayne Bianchin, - Played 22 games for the Victoria Cougars in 1971-72 but found success in 1972-73 with the Flin Flon Bombers scoring 60 goals in 68 games. Drafted 23rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1973, Bianchin appeared in 275 NHL games and retired in 1982. After his playing career, Bianchin moved back to Nanaimo, coached the Esquimalt Buccaneers/Nanaimo Clippers for a couple of seasons and worked in the financial sector.

 

Gene Carr – Grew up in Nanaimo but left at the age of 16 to play for the Kelowna Buckaroos of the BCHL. Carr was picked 4th overall by the St Louis Blues in the 1971 NHL draft and played in 465 career games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and the Atlanta Flames.

 

Glenn Fry of the Eagles wrote the song “New Kid in Town” about Gene Carr. Fry was a big hockey fan and became friends with Carr when he played for the Kings in the 1970s.

 

Upon retirement from hockey in 1979, Carr returned to Los Angeles and worked for Universal Studios.

 

Al Hill - played his junior hockey for the Nanaimo Clippers and the Victoria Cougars. Set an NHL record with the Philadelphia Flyers on February 14, 1977, by registering five points in his first career game. Hill played eight seasons with the Flyers and their American Hockey League team appearing in 221 NHL games from 1977 to 1984. He is currently a pro scout with Philadelphia. (Read our blog post about Al Hill)

 

Vancouver Canucks

 

The Vancouver Canucks opened their 1981 and 1982 pre-season schedule at Frank Crane Arena.

 

  • September 19, 1981 – Winnipeg Jets 3 – Vancouver Canucks 1

  • September 17, 1982 – Vancouver Canucks 2 – Los Angeles Kings 1

2017 Arena Referendum

 

In 2017, the City of Nanaimo held a referendum asking voters if they were willing to fund a new hockey arena for a Western Hockey League team. Unfortunately, the referendum failed with 80% voting against the arena funding plan. If the referendum had passed, the Kootenay Ice (now the Winnipeg Ice) would have moved to Nanaimo in 2018 and played out of Frank Crane Arena until the new arena was built. Click here to view the original Nanaimo arena proposal

2019 World Juniors

In preparation for the 2019 World Juniors, Slovakia held their training camp in Nanaimo at Cliff McNabb and Frank Crane Arena.

 

On December 19, 2019, a sold-out crowd at Frank Crane Arena watched the Czech Republic defeat Slovakia 2-1 in a pre-tournament game.

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