Even though the Victoria Grizzlies were sitting last in the Island Division, the opposite end of the standings from the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Bob Beatty knew not to expect an easy game last Friday.
“We certainly weren’t taking them lightly,” the Capitals head coach said after the Grizzlies prevailed 3-2 for their first win over the Caps of the 2015/16 B.C. Hockey League season. “We’ve played four games now, and they’ve all been one-goal games. We haven’t been at our best in those games.”
After a scoreless first period, the Caps fell behind the Grizzlies 2-0 and were down 3-1 when the period ended. The Caps got another goal late in the third, but weren’t able to close the gap.
“I thought we were outplayed,” Beatty said. “It was tough to figure out why. I thought we were second to pucks and we weren’t on top of our game.”
Both Cowichan goals, by veteran forwards Ryan Burton and Adam Osczevski, were scored shorthanded, the team’s sixth and seventh shorthanded goals this season. Storm Phaneuf was solid in the Cowichan net with 29 saves on 32 shots.
“I’ve got to give the Grizzlies credit,” Beatty said. “They work hard and they’re getting better. They were certainly hungry to beat us, and we didn’t match their work ethic.”
That game was followed by a wild 7-5 win over the Powell River Kings at home on Sunday. The Caps never trailed in the contest, but weren’t able to shake the Kings until the end, either.
After the teams traded goals in the first period, the Caps went up 4-2 on a pair of quick markers early in the second, then went to intermission ahead 4-3. The game went back and forth again in the third period, but the Caps managed to prevail, wrapping it up with an empty-netter.
“It went pretty well in spurts, but we were a little too loose away from the puck, and they kept coming back into the game,” Beatty said. “We’ve certainly got a lot to do this week.”
Ayden MacDonald had two goals, while defenceman Carter Cochrane continued his torrid offensive pace with a goal and three assists. Burton, Luke Santerno, Kyle Topping and Patrick Geary also scored, and blueliner Mitch Meek finished with four helpers. Phaneuf stopped 31 of 36 shots.
Once again, the Caps got contributions from throughout the lineup.
“We have to have some interchangeability and depth,” Beatty said. “The key to our success is going to have to be getting contributions from all our players. We’re built on depth; we can’t bank on any one player carrying our team. Everybody needs to be at their best in order for us to succeed.”
In a rematch of last Friday’s loss, the Caps will be back in Victoria again this Friday, then they’ll be at home to the Vernon Vipers Saturday at 7 p.m. Both teams beat the Capitals in their last meetings. While Beatty says that shouldn’t make a difference to how his team approaches the games, it will inevitably be in the backs of the players’ minds.
“We shouldn’t [go in differently],” he said. “To build consistency, we have to go into every game the same. But there might be more of a sense of urgency. We have to be prepared for them, and they will be prepared for us.”