Cowichan Valley Capitals take two of three on road

Trevor Ayre scored his first two goals as a Capital and former Smoke Eater Max Newton potted the winner as the Caps edged Trail 4-3.

Trevor Ayre scored his first two goals as a Cowichan Valley Capital and former Smoke Eater Max Newton potted the winner as the Caps edged Trail 4-3 in overtime on Friday to open a three-game weekend road trip.

The Caps would finish the trip with a 2-1 win over the Surrey Eagles on Sunday, the two victories sandwiched around a 5-1 loss to the Penticton Vees on Saturday.

“You never like to lose, but I think going into the weekend, we would have taken four out of six points as a pretty acceptable result,” Capitals head coach Bob Beatty said.

Ayre opened the scoring against Trail four minutes into the first period, then tied the game at 2-2 later in the period after the Smoke Eaters scored twice. Trail added one more before the end of the first period. Ayden MacDonald answered back for the Caps in the second, and after neither team scored in the third, the game went to overtime.

Newton, who spent his first two B.C. Hockey League seasons skating with the Smokies, needed just 41 seconds to bury the decisive marker.

Jared Domin assisted on both of Ayre’s goals, while MacDonald also finished with two points. Adam Marcoux made 33 saves for the victory. Luke Santerno, who the Caps sent to Trail in the deal for Newton, and sits fifth in league scoring, was held without a point, although former Caps defenceman Mitch Stapley collected a pair of assists.

“We weren’t really happy with our start,” Beatty said. “Adam closed things off after the first and made some great saves just before OT. We battled back and played hard. We probably deserved to win.”

Against Penticton the next day, MacDonald staked the Caps to a 1-0 lead when he scored two minutes and 28 seconds into the first period, but that was all the offence the team would muster against the league-leading Vees. Owen Sillinger tied the score for Penticton a minute and 40 seconds later, and finished the game with two goals and two assists. Lane Michasiw stopped 36 shots in the Cowichan net.

“We just didn’t play smart and hard enough,” Beatty said. “Some players had decent games — Simon [Chen] probably played his best game of the year, and Lane made a lot of quality shots. But they had too many grade-A chances for us to think we were going to win a hockey game.”

The Vees may boast the league’s best record, but the Capitals didn’t go into the game expecting to lose.

“When we played them at home, we lost in OT,” Beatty pointed out. “We’ve had some really good games against Penticton for the most part over the last three years. We don’t think we’re out-classed, we just have to play better. We’re no slouches; we’re not the favourites, but we’ve got the sixth-best record in the league. It’s not as if it’s an impossible task.”

Ayre had another two points, including the winning goal, to lead the Caps to victory over his hometown Eagles. Ayre helped set up Domin’s opening goal with 1:18 left in the first period. After the Eagles drew even early in the second, Ayre found the net again late in the frame, and the teams battled without scoring for the rest of the contest.

“Trevor had a good week,” Beatty said. “Not just on the scoresheet, but I though he stepped up his play. He played his best hockey as a Cap on the weekend. Hopefully it’s a sign he’s going to be a factor going forward.”

Michael Montambault assisted on both Cowichan goals, while captain Chris Harpur had an assist for the third straight game. Michasiw was near-perfect, stopping 37 of 38 scoring attempts.

Beatty was pleased to win the finale of the three-game road trip.

“The last half of the game, you could tell there was a bit of fatigue,” he admitted. “The guys played really hard and we were able to get another road win. Lane was exceptional, for sure. Our goaltending tandem has been a blessing, really.”

The Caps are at home against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this Wednesday at 7 p.m., and play their last game before Christmas on Saturday as they host the Prince George Spruce Kings.

After a brutal start to the season, the Bulldogs have improved their play and now trail the Nanaimo Clippers by just four points for fourth place in the Island Division.

“We’ve seen that movie before,” Beatty said. “They had a slow start, but they always seem to find a way to get back on track. It will be a tough game, but it’s an important game. It’s a huge game for us — not that we’re looking over our shoulders in fear, but it’s huge if we get two points and keep them off the board. It provides a little more cushion going into the break.”