The Cowichan Valley Capitals came away from a home-and-home series with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last weekend with a tie and a loss to show for it, and head coach Bob Beatty was not satisfied.
“Getting one out of four points against a team in your own division is not good enough,” he said.
The Caps had to battle back from three one-goal deficits to earn a 3-3 tie with the Bulldogs at home last Friday. A day later, in Port Alberni, they were shut out 5-0.
Goalie Storm Phaneuf made 39 saves over regulation and 10 minutes of overtime to preserve the tie on Friday.
“We were fortunate that Storm gave us the performance he did,” Beatty said. “Our intensity in the last 10 to 15 minutes of regulation and in overtime was fine, but we have to find a way to bring that earlier in the game; we have to have better starts.”
Jared Domin, Corey Hoffman and Kade Kehoe were responsible for the Caps’ goals. Hoffman scored in his first game for Cowichan after being acquired from the Prince George Spruce Kings.
“I thought Hoffman was pretty good. He’s going to take some time to blend in, but I thought he worked hard away from the puck. He’s got a skill set that will help us once he finds a groove.”
Saturday’s crushing defeat evoked memories of a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Victoria Grizzlies the previous Tuesday.
“We just weren’t very good,” Beatty confessed. “It was a bit of a repeat of Tuesday. We weren’t good out of the gate. We got outplayed. I thought we got outworked. We weren’t good in front of our own net, again, early in the game. We gave them momentum and we couldn’t get it back.”
Lane Michasiw was peppered with 46 shots in goal and turned aside 41. Although there may have been a few individual performances that were alright, that’s not what Beatty was looking for.
“We’re in it as a team,” he said. “We have to play better as a unit. There were a few guys I thought were decent, but as a team, we didn’t generate anything on the forecheck.”
The Caps will play the rest of their January games at the Island Savings Centre, and Beatty knows how important it is to take advantage of that.
“We have four straight home games, but they’re all real tough opponents,” he said. “We have to play better than we did last week. Our next six games will go a long way to determining where we finish in the standings.”
Cowichan now sits third in the Island Division standings, 11 points back of the Nanaimo Clippers and two behind the Powell River Kings. The good news is that they have two games in hand on Nanaimo and one in hand on Powell River. Finishing first in the division remains a possibility, although with 15 games left to play, it won’t be easy.
“There is a chance, but we’re going to have to go on a pretty good run to accomplish that,” Beatty said.
The Caps play host to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday and the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.