Trailing 3-1 going into the final period of their home-and-home series against the Victoria Grizzlies last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals dug deep and battled back to tie the game, then held on through two overtime periods to earn a single point.
“That was the only period we played all weekend,” said Caps head coach Bob Beatty, who was clearly disappointed with his team’s performance.
The Caps lost 6-3 at the Q Centre on Friday night before managing a 3-3 draw at home on Saturday.
“We clawed our way back and got a point [on Saturday],” he said. “It would have been nice to at least split. We didn’t deserve to win Friday night by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t know if we deserved to win Saturday night.”
The Caps remain just two points back of the first-place Grizzlies in the B.C. Hockey League Island Division standings, but they’ve been slipping down in recent weeks, something Beatty is well aware of.
“We’re trending in a negative direction, certainly,” he said, noting that since his team won back-to-back games at the BCHL Showcase on Sept. 22 and 23, they’ve earned a steadily decreasing proportion of the available points each weekend.
“Our consistency is also trending in the wrong direction,” Beatty added. “We aren’t paying attention to detail. You can’t play parts of games and expect to win.”
While there are teams that can coast for a period now and then and still contend, Beatty acknowledges that his squad isn’t one of them, and he doesn’t want his players thinking they can get away with that.
“It’s just a matter of paying attention to detail and not getting carried away with ourselves and thinking we’re something we’re not,” he said. “I like our team when we’re playing well. I don’t think anyone would have picked us, on paper, to be a finalist, so we have to work harder than other teams to play well.”
Early in the season, the Caps proved they can play with the best teams in the league, but they have to outwork those teams to win.
“We have set the bar pretty high, so it’s not that we’re not capable of it.” Beatty said. “But we have to work harder than we have been. We can’t do that in spurts and have success. We’re not a good enough team to do that. That’s just the reality of it.”
Cowichan defenceman Simon Chen opened the scoring on Friday. Taking his first shift as a forward — the Caps were shorthanded up front so they dressed seven blueliners and let them take turns in the forward ranks — Chen took a lead pass from Ty Pochipinski and converted on a breakaway opportunity for his first BCHL goal and point.
“I think everybody was pretty excited about that,” Beatty said. “Our lead didn’t last that long. It would have been nice to enjoy that a little bit more.”
The Grizzlies tied the score 28 seconds after Chen’s goal, and led 3-1 at the end of the first period. Chen picked up his first BCHL assist on Ryan Hogg’s second-period marker as the Caps got within a goal, but Victoria dominated the third period 3-1, Max Newton accounting for Cowichan’s lone goal.
Adam Marcoux was busy in the Cowichan net, stopping 37 of 43 shots, while the Caps directed 24 shots at Victoria’s Matthew Galajda.
Newton got the Caps on the board first on Saturday, but the Grizzlies scored three times in the second to pull ahead. Rhett Kingston and Hogg had the third-period goals. Cowichan goalie Lane Michasiw faced 53 shots and let only three past, while Galajda stopped 25 of the 28 shots fired his way.
The Caps will be in Nanaimo this Wednesday to face the Clippers, who are coming off a three-win weekend. They visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday, and are home to the Langley Rivermen on Saturday a 7 p.m.
“We have to find a way to right the ship and get moving again,” Beatty said.