Weekend split for Cowichan Valley Capitals

The Caps kept the Clippers at bay with a 6-3 win last Friday, but missed an opportunity when they lost 7-3 to the Eagles on Sunday.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals managed to keep the Nanaimo Clippers at bay with a 6-3 win over that team last Friday, but missed an opportunity to add another two points to their slim advantage when they lost 7-3 to the Surrey Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

Going into last weekend’s games, the Caps sat third in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division, just two points ahead of the Clippers, and that margin remains the same now that the dust has settled.

“It was a big win on Friday,” Caps head coach Bob Beatty said. “It would have been nice to follow up and not lose on Sunday. All the games are big when it’s that tight, and we had a chance to gain more ground, but we weren’t able to execute.”

On Friday, Michael Montambault and Ayden MacDonald scored 49 seconds apart at 6:02 and 6:51 of the first period, and the Clippers added one to make it 2-1 after the first period. Nanaimo tied the score at 8:42 of the second, but the Caps again scored two quick goals as Montambault notched his second of the game at 17:02 and defenceman Sean Driscoll potted his second of the season at 17:22, and the home team was ahead 4-2 after 40 minutes.

The Caps added two more in the third as MacDonald and George Sennott found the net, with the Clippers scoring in between.

Montambault finished the game with two goals and two assists, while Jared Domin had three helpers. Nii Noi Tetteh, Max Newton and John Sladic each had a pair assists as well, and Lane Michasiw made 35 saves in the win.

Montambault had compiled just six points in his first 17 appearances before exploding for four on Friday.

“I think he just got shooting the puck,” Beatty said. “We moved him to centre ice, and he’s a lot more comfortable playing there. He had an excellent game.”

The Caps actually led 3-2 midway through Sunday’s contest with Surrey before the Eagles scored five unanswered goals. Newton had the only goal of the first period, and Ryan Hogg and MacDonald had second-period markers to restore the lead after Surrey scored twice early in the middle frame. The Eagles scored twice after the halfway point of the second period and three times in the third. MacDonald finished the game with a goal and an assist, while goalie Adam Marcoux made 36 saves.

“I thought Surrey was the more physical team,” Beatty said. “They won the puck races, and we were coming in second. We didn’t generate enough chances off the rush. Surrey’s got a good team; they’ve got some pretty good size, and we didn’t respond well.”

After playing eight straight home games, the Caps will head out on the road this week for the first time since they collected back-to-back wins over the Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Oct. 19 and 21. They will visit the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday and the Vernon Vipers on Sunday.

It’s a small sample size, but the Caps are 6-2-1 away from the Island Savings Centre so far this season, and their .722 win percentage is the third-best mark in the league right now.

“It’s the same as always,” Beatty said. “We’ve just got to get moving. It’s a tough road trip. Chilliwack is a good team, and Salmon Arm and Vernon are scrappy teams. It will be a tough three in three for us.”