Olivier Gauthier scored twice during the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Vernon Vipers at the Cowichan Arena on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Capitals cope with coach stuck on sidelines

Whiteford takes reins as Vandekamp serves suspension

Even though Mike Vandekamp hasn’t been behind the Cowichan Valley Capitals bench for the last couple of games, he’s never far from the action.

Vandekamp was handed an automatic three-game suspension by the B.C. Hockey League after being ejected from a game for the second time this season. Assistant coach Dan Whiteford has taken the reins during the games, but Vandekamp has been keeping close tabs on the team.

With Vandekamp temporarily banished, the Caps lost 4-1 to the Victoria Grizzlies at the Q Centre last Friday, but came back to beat the Vernon Vipers by an identical score at the Cowichan Arena the following night.

The Grizzlies’ opening goal on Friday came on a lucky redirection off a skate, and the home team led 3-0 after 20 minutes. The rest of the game was close, but the gap was too large for the Caps to close. Dan McIntyre set up Niko Esposito-Selivanov for Cowichan’s lone goal in the second period, and Victoria scored one more in the third.

Jack Grant made 40 saves in the Cowichan net, and Kurtis Chapman stopped 39 for Victoria.

“I didn’t like our start,” Vandekamp said. “I thought we were flat-footed early on. We weren’t skating in the first, and they’re a good skating team.

“Most of the game was evenly played. It was tied on the scoreboard, tied on the shot clock, but you’re not going to beat a good club with 40 minutes.”

Pierce Diamond made 28 saves and Olivier Gauthier scored two goals as the Caps defeated the Vipers 4-1 on Saturday.

Gauthier opened the scoring midway through the first period and added the Caps’ third goal early in the second. Also scoring were Preston Brodziak — whose eventual game-winner came just 46 seconds after Gauthier’s first goal — and Cole Broadhurst. Vernon’s lone marker of the night came 74 seconds into the third period.

Both goalies faced 29 shots on the night, but Diamond outshone Vipers netminder Aidan Porter, who made 25 stops.

“I thought they played the type of game we expected it to be. They work hard; they tried to grind us down a bit with their forecheck and puck possession. We defended well. We had some turnovers I didn’t like, but we got some timely goals and capitalized on our opportunities.”

It was against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last Wednesday that Vandekamp earned the ejection that led to his suspension. Cowichan forward Adam Conquest was also suspended four games for a blow to the head against Alberni, serving the first two over the weekend.

The Caps lost that one 4-0 as John Hawthorne, a Chemainus product who learned his craft in the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association, stopped all 43 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season.

“We played well against Alberni,” Vandekamp said. “The storyline is that their goaltender was tremendous.”

Earlier that same day, the Bulldogs announced that Hawthorne has committed to NCAA Div. I Northern Michigan University for the 2019-20 campaign.

Pierce Diamond made his fourth consecutive start in the Cowichan net and allowed four goals on 25 shots.

Vandekamp had no concerns about the way Whiteford handled things behind the bench against Vernon and Victoria.

“The big thing this time of year is that a lot of what we’re doing is ingrained in us,” the coach said. “It’s probably less distracting this time of the season than something like this happening earlier in the year. It’s a fairly natural progression for everyone. Sometimes it’s a good thing for them, having a different voice behind them.

“Dan has been with us all year long. He has a clear understanding of what’s going on and what we’re trying to do.”

The Caps remain two points back of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for fourth place in the Island Division, but hold a nine-point lead over the Surrey Eagles for the BCHL’s last playoff spot. Alberni has one game in hand on the Caps, and Surrey has two in hand.

Next up for the Caps is a home-and-home series with the Nanaimo Clippers. The Island rivals meet at the Frank Crane Arena on Friday and then at the Cowichan Arena on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Just Posted

Warren Goulding column: Letter to the editor was unfair

I’m always impressed with the volume of letters to the editor that… Continue reading

Sarah Simpson Column: It took two months but the cat came back

The column before last, I mentioned that a cat who’d gone missing… Continue reading

Bulldog from Chemainus will be a Wildcat next season

Hawthorne grateful for the chance to play Div. 1 in the U.S. after his BCHL development

T.W. Paterson column: Forbidden Plateau’s lost gold nuggets

“Time and time again the young men scoured the hills…”

North Cowichan will look at hiring staff person to deal with climate change

Coun. Kate Marsh makes motion for a report on issue

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Coming up in Cowichan: Bowl for Kids; Leaders of Tomorrow

Bowl for Kids Sake coming up in Cowichan Valley on March 3… Continue reading

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Credit card fraud steals $50,000 from Victoria businesses: police

Crime Reduction Unit investigating several frauds costing several businesses over $50,000

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Most Read