Kevin Rothbauer Citizen
Although they were missing some key players, the Cowichan Valley Capitals made it through one of their toughest road trips of the B.C. Hockey League season with a pair of victories.
The Caps beat the West Kelowna Warriors 6-4 last Friday and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-2 on Sunday, their only loss coming in the middle when the Vernon Vipers beat them 3-1 on Saturday.
“It was real positive,” head coach Bob Beatty said. “To get a couple of wins out of that swing was excellent. We played well, I thought, all three games. Credit to the guys, we were a little short-staffed. They worked hard.”
Top scorer Ryan Burton missed the road trip with an illness, and forward Rhett Willcox was also out. Affiliate player Steven Fiust stepped in and played all three games. Kyle Berry and Gary Dhaliwal also found their way into the lineup.
On Friday, Luke Santerno opened the scoring just 77 seconds in. Kelowna pulled ahead 2-1, but the Caps got two goals from Patrick Geary to hold a 3-2 edge after one period.
Berry scored in the second period and Cowichan held a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes. They added two more in the third, a powerplay goal by Kade Kehoe and an empty-netter by Matthew Hudie, to go up 6-3 before a late shorthanded marker by the Warriors.
Geary and Kehoe each finished with three points, while captain Adam Osczevski had a pair of assists. Storm Phaneuf made 43 saves for the win, his 13th win of the season, surpassing the 12 that Matt Zentner led the team with last year.
On Saturday, Hudie scored in the first period and the Vipers answered back in the second, then added two more in the third, including a powerplay goal in the final minute of play. Lane Michasiw got the start in goal and stopped 33 of 36 shots.
“We played some of our best hockey of the year in the first half of the game,” Beatty said.
After a scoreless first period on Sunday, Chris Harpur and Santerno scored in the second, their goals sandwiched around one by Salmon Arm. Ayden MacDonald put the Caps back up for good with less than five minutes remaining. The Silverbacks added one more with just two seconds on the clock
Phaneuf picked up his 14th win of the season with a 33-save outing.
“I thought the road trip was real positive for us,” Beatty said. “I was real proud of the guys.
The Caps play two games at home this weekend, hosting BCHL newcomers the Wenatchee Wild on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Wenatchee is a good team, and Trail is hot right now,” Beatty said. “I think we’ve got our hands full this weekend, for sure.”
Friday’s game will feature the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are encouraged to bring an unwrapped new or gently used stuffed toy to throw on the ice when the Caps score their first goal.