Bantam C3 Capitals clinch playoff banner for Cowichan with clutch run

The Capitals went into the playoffs seeded fourth in the A pool

The bantam C3 Capitals display the playoff championship banner. (Submitted)

Back in February and March, the bantam C3 Cowichan Valley Capitals overcame challenge after challenge on the way to claiming their playoff banner.

The Capitals went into the playoffs seeded fourth in the A pool, with the odds of winning not on their side, but they dug deep, played clutch hockey, and rose to the top.

First up was a wildcard game against fifth-seeded Nanaimo 4 on Feb. 29, which Cowichan won by a single goal. That set up a semifinal showdown against top-seeded Nanaimo 2, another one-goal win for the Capitals.

If back-to-back one-goal wins weren’t thrilling enough, the final against Nanaimo 5 on March 7 took the excitement up another few notches.

Early on, it didn’t look good for the Capitals, who found themselves down 4-0 after 20 minutes.

“They outplayed us bad in the first period,” head coach Mike Gray commented. “They outplayed us horribly. They jumped all over us. We had nothing.”

Cowichan started to bounce back in the second period, and trailed 5-3 or 5-2 — it’s been a few months since the game, and Gray wasn’t entirely sure — at the second intermission.

The Capitals made it 5-5 with a few minutes remaining in regulation, then Nanaimo went up 6-5 with two minutes left to play. Gray called a timeout, and the usual move at that time would have been to pull the goaltender for an extra attacker. The Cowichan skaters had other ideas.

“One of the players said, ‘Don’t pull the goalie; we got this,’” Gray recalled.

As promised, the players went out and evened the score. Gray admitted the tying goal was “controversial,” but it still counted.

“Our big right winger [Curtis Atcheson] pushed it toward the net,” the coach said. “The ref counted it. [Atcheson] said he put it in with his stick.”

In overtime, Donovan McCarter was able to take advantage of a lesson he learned from an unsuccessful scoring attempt earlier in the game.

“He had tried early in the first period to go to the goalie’s right,” Gray recalled. “This time he put it top shelf on the left.”

Gray was astonished by the 7-6 banner-clinching victory and the way his team came together despite losing a couple of players to injuries, including one of their two goalies, which forced Kayde DeClark to play the entire final, when the netminders were used to splitting games.

“It was a little unconventional,” the coach admitted. “But it worked.”

Gray was assisted in his coaching duties by John Mountain, Jason Closson and Brian Banks, all fathers of first-year bantam players, perhaps setting the stage for a repeat next year.

As it turned out, the bantam C3 Caps were lucky to get the playoffs finished. They were planning to play in a tournament in Victoria in March, but Hockey Canada shut things down just before it took place.

“It was kind of disappointing,” Gray said. “We had the banner. It was all good. We were going to have fun and see what happened.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley Regional District will reopen three arenas in August

Ice will go back in at Lake Cowichan, Cowichan Community Centre and Kerry Park

Business notes: Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association launches program for front-line workers

A sample of what’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

UPDATE: RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Motorcyclist airlifted after collision in Cobble Hill

Residents describe intersection of Telegraph and Hutchinson as “dangerous” and “problematic”

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Island youth starts virtual race against racism

Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Most Read