Cowichan’s Olivier Gauthier, who had a goal and two assists in the game, keeps the puck away from Alberni’s Dawson Tritt, with Cruz Cote providing backup, during Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Caps get off track in loss to Alberni

Cowichan plays to three-point weekend against Island rivals

After a decisive win on Friday, the Cowichan Valley Capitals didn’t play their own game on Saturday and paid for it with an overtime loss.

The Caps thumped the Nanaimo Clippers 5-1 on Friday in an excellent example of what the team can do when playing its best, then played catch-up with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday until they finally lost 6-5 in overtime.

Including Friday’s result, Cowichan had allowed eight goals in five games going into Saturday. Then in one game, the team gave up six goals, more than they’d allowed in one game in more than a month.

“The last little while, we’ve found a good template for how to play our game,” Capitals head coach Mike Vandekamp said. “We got away from that Saturday and have to get back to it. We’ve been defensively responsible, keeping the puck out of our own net, disciplined, with strong special teams. We have to get back to that.”

Primo Self and Matt Crasa gave the Caps a two-goal lead in the opening 10 minutes of Friday’s game against Nanaimo. The Clippers scored on the powerplay with just under five minutes left to play, and held the momentum going into the first intermission. Powerplay goals by Luc Wilson and Crasa put the Caps back in the driver’s seat in the second period, and a successful penalty shot by Olivier Gauthier just 21 seconds into the third took the pressure off.

Wilson finished the game with a goal and an assist, and Dimitri Mikrogiannakis and Tanner Sidaway each registered two helpers. Zach Borgiel made 31 saves as the Caps were outshot 32-29.

“Obviously, it was a big game for us and the team rose to the occasion,” Vandekamp said.

Saturday’s game was originally scheduled to be played in Port Alberni, but issues with that city’s rink forced it to be relocated to Duncan, and the teams swapped home dates. Despite playing in their own rink, the Caps didn’t have much of an advantage.

“It was kind of a sloppy game for us,” Vandekamp said. “We had a couple of weird bounces around our net. We had a couple of mistakes on defence. Our powerplay was sharp; we gave ourselves a chance.”

Cole Broadhurst scored for Cowichan as the teams were even at 1-1 after one period, then Will Arquiett and Olivier Gauthier had powerplay goals in the second as the teams were locked at 3-3. Alberni went up with a powerplay goal at 7:15 of the third, but the Caps answered back with another powerplay goal at 16:25. The Bulldogs took the lead again at 18:32, but Dan McIntyre pulled the Caps even with just 10 seconds left in regulation. Alberni notched the winner after two minutes and 24 seconds of overtime.

Gauthier totalled a goal and two assists in the game, while McIntyre and Arquiett each had a goal and one helper. Ben Howard took the loss in the Cowichan net with 39 saves as the Caps outshot the Bulldogs 45-44.

With 18 wins, nine regulation losses, two overtime losses and one shootout loss, the Caps are still second in the Island Division with 39 points, one back of the Clippers, who have two games in hand.

The Caps visited the Victoria Grizzlies at the Q Centre on Tuesday, and will do the same on Friday. They visit the Bulldogs on Saturday in what was originally scheduled as a home game.

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