Caps gain ground in race, then slip back

One step forward, one step back. Continuing their harrowing battle for a B.C. Hockey League playoff spot, the Cowichan Valley Capitals pulled ahead of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs with a 7-2 trouncing of the Nanaimo Clippers last Friday night, only to move back into a tie when they lost to the Powell River Kings on Saturday.

The Caps took full advantage of the Clippers’ tendencies to mix things up on Saturday, going 4-for-11 on the powerplay while giving up just two man advantages.

Twelve different players recorded points for the Caps, led by Colton Kehler’s two goals and one assist. Dane Gibson also scored twice, Jordan Topping had a goal and a helper, and Clint Filbrandt and Taylor Allan had singles. Mason Malkowich, Brayden Gelsinger, Jesse Neher and Myles

Powell had two assists each.

Robin Gusse had another strong start, stopping 35 of 37 shots for his 20th win of the season.

In Powell River on Sunday, Gibson and defenceman Valik Chichkin did the scoring, but it wasn’t enough as the Kings scored the last three goals, including an empty-netter. Gusse made another 35 saves, this time on 39 shots.

The Caps and Bulldogs both have 48 points with two games left. The Caps hold the tiebreaker with 21 wins to the Bulldogs’ 20.

Cowichan will play back-to-back games against the Victoria Cougars this weekend, beginning at home on Friday when the team will honour Caleb Kroffat, the young minor hockey player who died outside a game in November. The teams will head to Victoria for the season finale on Saturday night.