Capitals forward Dan McIntyre celebrates with his teammates after completing his first BCHL hat trick against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Borgiel, McIntyre pace Caps to great start

Cowichan starts at 2-0 for first time since 2015

Goalie Zach Borgiel was named the B.C. Hockey League’s Player of the Week and Dan McIntyre earned an honourable mention as the Cowichan Valley Capitals started the season with a pair of thoroughly convincing victories.

Borgiel stopped 67 of 69 shots in his first two BCHL games, including a shutout of the Nanaimo Clippers on Friday, and McIntyre scored three times against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday as the Caps opened the 2019-20 campaign with a 2-0 win over the Clippers at Frank Crane Arena and an 8-2 win over the Grizzlies at the Cowichan Arena.

Josh Kagan’s goal at 13:18 of the second period in his BCHL debut on Friday stood up as the game-winner thanks to Borgiel’s 35-save effort against the arch-rival Clippers. An empty-netter by Andy Bridgewater — also playing in his first BCHL contest — sealed the deal in the final minute. Zach Bennett made 26 saves in the loss for the Clippers.

Caps head coach Mike Vandekamp felt the game lacked flow and said ice conditions had the puck bouncing, which he said affected both teams.

“We’re just trying to figure out our own team, still, and get through some of the nerves that come with that first game,” he said. “Getting through it is what you kind of do, and that was a get-through-it type of game for us,” he said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”

The close game on opening night could be a sign of things to come in the BCHL’s Island Division, as Vandekamp predicts it’s going to be “really tight” this year.

“There’s five good teams in our division, so it’s kind of wide open and every game within the division’s going to be a big game and we’re going to hopefully be as hard to play against as possible,” he said.

Newcomer Tanner Sidaway, who played last year for the WHL’s Victoria Royals, had his BCHL debut cut short midway through the first period on Friday when he was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head of a Nanaimo player. Sidaway was subsequently suspended four games.

In the Caps home opener on Saturday, McIntyre built on a strong preseason to notch his first BCHL hat trick, while Borgiel was outstanding once again, stopping 32 of 34 shots. The Caps led 3-0 after the first, and 6-0 after two periods, then matched the Grizzlies 2-2 in the third.

McIntyre had five goals in 54 games with the Caps in 2018-19, and looks ready to eclipse those numbers quickly this season after scoring three times and adding an assist on Saturday. Olivier Gauthier and Luc Wilson both scored twice against Victoria, and Brady Lynn added one as holdovers from last year’s team provided all eight goals. Off-season additions Bridgewater, Tyrell Boucher, Will Arquiett and Zach Brooks all finished the night with two assists.

Bridgewater was also on the receiving end of a blindside hit by a Victoria player after the Caps’ sixth goal — McIntyre’s third — late in the second period. McIntyre jumped to Bridgewater’s defence and was issued a misconduct for his troubles, but still returned in the third to score his fourth.

The Caps outshot the Grizzlies 43-34 on the night. The Grizzlies scored the lone powerplay goal of the night to go 1-for-5, while the Caps were 0-for-4.

This is the first time since 2015-16 that the Caps have opened the B.C. Hockey League season with back-to-back wins.

The Caps will be back at home next Saturday when they play host to the Chilliwack Chiefs. On Sunday they travel to Powell River for a matinee game against the Kings.

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