Going into their three-game Interior Division road trip last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals set the goal of coming home still in first place in the Island Division, which head coach Bob Beatty guessed would require at least two wins.
The Caps won twice, and held on to first place, so mission accomplished. The one that got away — a 4-3 loss to the B.C. Hockey League-dominating Penticton Vees on Saturday — bugs Beatty.
“I think, going in, if you would have said we’d come out with four points, we would have taken it,” he said. “But it was a heartbreaker in Penticton. To be honest, that was the best game we played on the weekend.”
After taking a 1-0 lead out of the first period thanks to Ayden MacDonald, the Caps had to battle back late in the second to tie it at 2-2 on a powerplay goal by Matthew Hudie. The Vees pulled ahead again in the third, but Patrick Geary brought the Caps even again. A powerplay goal by the Vees with just over two minutes left ended up deciding the game and extending Penticton’s winning streak to 22 games.
“We were down a couple of times and we were able to tie it up,” Beatty said. “We deserved better. C’est la vie.”
As previously mentioned, the Caps did come home with four points, four more than they’ve had on that same road trip over the last two years combined.
On Friday night, the Caps thumped the Smoke Eaters 6-1 for their first victory in Trail since 2009. On Sunday, they finished the trip with a 3-2 win over the Centennials, the first time since 2011 that they had won in Merritt.
“They’re tough places to win in,” Beatty said. “So we’re satisfied with the effort.”
Forward Kade Kehoe and defence- man Carter Cochrane each had a goal and three assists against Trail, and Ryan Burton had a goal and two helpers. Chris Harpur, Mitch Meek and Jared Domin also scored, while goalie Storm Phaneuf had 37 saves.
The line of Kehoe, Burton and Adam Osczevski provided all the offence on Sunday: Burton scored two goals and set up another, Osczevski had a goal and one assist, and Kehoe had three helpers. Lane Michasiw came back from an illness to make his first appearance in the Cowichan crease since Sept. 27 and stopped 29 shots for the win and first-star honours.
Finishing the weekend with three goals and three assists in three games, Burton was named the BCHL’s Player of the Week. Kehoe, who had a goal and six helpers, didn’t even make the honourable mention list.
This week, for the third time in the last four Fridays, the Caps will have a date with the Victoria Grizzlies, who beat them in the last two meetings. On Saturday, the Caps will host the Nanaimo Clippers, and next Wednesday, they will be at home to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The Caps currently sit atop the Island Division, but the Clippers are just two points back, and even the last-place Bulldogs are only nine points behind.
“We’ve got to rectify the situation [in Victoria] for sure,” Beatty said. “Our next five games, until the end of the month, are all division games. The next five games are going to be crucial. In this division, you could be out of the playoffs in a hurry if you go on a skid.”