After leading the Cowichan Valley Capitals to a sweep in their three-game road trip on the weekend, Zach Borgiel has been named the B.C. Hockey League’s Player of the Week for the second time in just the first month of the season.
Borgiel earned all three wins in net, stopping 84 of 89 shots, as the Caps defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 on Friday, the Vernon Vipers 7-2 on Saturday, and the Surrey Eagles 4-2 on Sunday. The Michigan product now holds a season record of eight wins and one loss, with a 2.12 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
“He’s been consistent,” Cowichan head coach Mike Vandekamp said. “To be a starting goalie, that’s what you’re looking for. He’s been consistent pretty much the whole season, and he was solid all weekend long.”
The Caps have won eight of their first 10 games and sit first in the Island Division with the third-best record in the entire league, but Vandekamp knows it’s too early to celebrate anything.
“The big thing is it’s only a start,” he cautioned. “It’s 10 games, and it’s a good start, but there’s a long ways to go in the season. It takes a lot of work to peak at the right time of the season.”
Getting off to a good start against Salmon Arm on Friday was paramount. The Silverbacks were undefeated through their first six games, and Vandekamp knew his club needed to be at their best.
“The first couple of teams we played this year with good records [the Powell River Kings and Penticton Vees], it didn’t go so well for us,” he noted. “So we focused on the mental side, being focused and confident. We stressed the importance of a good first period and taking it a period at a time. I think the start was the key.”
Borgiel wasn’t the only star for the Caps on the road jaunt. Fourteen different players registered at least one point over the three games, including five — Dimitri Mikrogiannakis, Dan McIntyre, Luc Wilson, Brady Lynn and new addition Matt Crasa — who had four-point weekends.
“We had lots of good performances, which is really important at any stage,” Vandekamp said. “But certainly on a road trip like that, you’re not going to win without everyone playing well.”
McIntyre returned to the Cowichan lineup on Friday after missing four games due to injury and put up two goals and two assists, while the Caps also got powerplay markers from Wilson and Mikrogiannakis. Crasa and Primo Self made their debuts for Cowichan after signing with the team on Thursday, and Crasa recorded his first BCHL assist. Borgiel made 32 saves as the Caps were narrowly outshot 33-32.
Crasa scored a pair of second-period goals, including one on the powerplay, helping the Caps build a 5-0 lead over the first 40 minutes before the Vipers finally beat Borgiel. Mikrogiannakis, Wilson, Andy Bridgewater, Tyrell Boucher and Cruz Cote also scored, while Self and Olivier Gauthier had two assists apiece and recently added defenceman Nolan Barrett notched his first assist as a Capital. The Caps outshot the Vipers 31-27, with Borgiel making 25 stops.
On Sunday, centre Will Arquiett returned from a five-game suspension and opened the scoring against the Eagles. Other goals came from Lynn, Cote and Zach Brooks, and Borgiel made 27 saves as Cowichan outshot Surrey 33-28.
Crasa and Self, 2001-born forwards who signed with the Caps just in time to travel to the Mainland, played together with the Selects U18 team in the U.S. Premier Hockey League last season. Crasa was second on the team with 90 points (33 goals and 57 assists) in 67 games, and Self was third with 86 points (36 goals and 50 assists) in 67 games. Crasa is already committed to Sacred Heart University for next season, and Self is committed to Miami University (Ohio).
Vandekamp recruited the duo after seeing them play in the spring. They were already drafted into the U.S. Hockey League and pursued opportunities there this fall before they were made available last week.
“Matt is a good two-way guy with good size and skill,” Vandekamp said. “Primo is a winger with speed and skill. I think both players add depth to our team, basically.”
To make room on the roster, the Caps traded forward Josh Kagan to the Merritt Centennials and sent defenceman Christophe Sauvageau to the Rockland Nationals of the Central Canada Hockey League. Kagan had four goals and three assists in seven games with the Caps, and Sauvageau had one assist in four appearances.
The Caps will play in the BCHL Showcase Festival in Chilliwack this week, facing the Langley Rivermen at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and Surrey on Wednesday afternoon. The start times are unusual, but both teams will have to contend with that situation, Vandekamp said, while the players try to impress university and pro scouts in the stands.
“It’s just going to be challenging for both teams,” he said. “We’ll go there and give it our best shot. The individual players play their best when the team plays well, so I think it’s to the advantage of all the players as individuals.”
After the Showcase, the Caps will visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday night.