Powell River is a tough place for any B.C. Hockey League team to play, and the Kings boast one of the best home records in the league. But Cowichan Valley Capitals head coach Bob Beatty still wasn’t prepared to see his team lose 4-0 and 7-0 in back-to-back games in Powell River last weekend
“I’d like to be able to explain it fully,” he said. “I guess it was a bit of a combination of faults. We started out Friday with a really good pace to the game, and I thought we looked pretty good. We had to kill off three penalties in the first period, but we came out of it pretty good, and we were outshooting them after the first.”
After a scoreless first period, the Caps gave up two goals in the second and two in the third. Powell River goalie Jeff Smith turned aside all 21 Cowichan shots, while Capitals netminder Storm Phaneuf allowed four goals on 35 shots.
“We quit moving the puck effectively and we obviously got outplayed,” Beatty said. “They capitalized and, aside from the first period when we had some good scoring chances, we didn’t generate much offence.”
On Saturday, the Caps surrendered four goals in the first, one in the second, and two in the third, while Smith stopped all 25 pucks the Caps fired at him. Lane Michasiw started the game in net and, allowed five goals on 22 shots over 31 minutes and 42 seconds. Phaneuf played the remaining 28:18, stopping 25 of 27 shots.
“Saturday I think compounded it,” Beatty said. “They scored fairly early. We didn’t really have a commitment in our end. The biggest problem was that we didn’t get much offensive-zone time; we were spending too much time in our end, and we missed some assignments.”
Captain Adam Osczevski was suspended for Friday’s game, and fellow forward Corey Hoffman was suspended for Friday and Saturday, but their absences didn’t explain the two shutout losses.
“They’re good players, they’re solid players, but it’s certainly not an excuse,” Beatty said. “When you lose 7-0, you don’t have a lot of excuses to fall back on.”
The losses in Powell River dropped the Caps to third place in the Island Division standings, and they are closer in terms of points to the fifth-place Alberni Valley Bulldogs than they are to the second-place Kings. Nanaimo sits first (68 points and six games remaining), followed by Powell River (63 points and seven games remaining), Cowichan (52 points and nine games remaining), Victoria (46 points and eight games remaining) and Alberni (44 points and eight games remaining).
The Caps could still fall out of the playoff picture, Beatty acknowledged.
“If we can’t muster up a better effort, there’s always that possibility,” he said. “We’re certainly not thinking we deserve to miss the playoffs, nor do we think we will. We need to play like we are capable of playing and a playoff matchup will be available to us.”
The Caps will visit Nanaimo this Wednesday, followed by a three-game home stand, hosting Merritt on Friday, Chilliwack on Saturday, and Victoria next Tuesday.
“We always have pretty intense games against Nanaimo, and I don’t expect this one will be any different,” Beatty said. “There’s no love lost, and that’s the way we want it to be. Obviously, when you play a first-place team, you have to be at your best. It’s a good challenge for us to get back on track.”