Special teams and discipline are at the top of head coach Brian Passmore’s list of things to work on after the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ 5-3 loss to Nanaimo Clippers in B.C. Hockey League exhibition play on Tuesday.
The Caps got to use their penalty kill a lot during the game at the Island Savings Centre, but the most dramatic moments happened on the powerplay. The Caps had just converted a 5-on-3 opportunity to take a 3-2 lead when a turnover led to a shorthanded goal for the Clippers that evened things up at 3-3. The Clippers scored the eventual game-winner moments later, then added an empty-netter in the dying seconds.
Despite the result, Passmore was pleased with his team’s effort, particularly on defence. Offensively, the players are still looking for chemistry.
“They’ve got to start using each other a bit more,” he said. “They’re not used to the lines yet.”
Newcomer David Laroche scored twice, and returning player Nick Wilson had the other goal. Laroche, who lit the lamp 13 times in 23 games at the Quebec high school level last year, could be a key offensive player for the Caps this season.
“He’s definitely a hound for the puck around the net. He loves to score goals. He gets excited when he scores. We need him to do that as much as possible.”
As of Thursday morning, the Caps had 26 players left in camp: 16 forwards, seven defencemen and three goalies, including the projected tandem of Adam Marcoux and Yann Dery, and possible affiliate player Jason Pichette. The biggest battles remaining are in the forward ranks.
“There are kids fighting for spots up and down the whole lineup,” Passmore said. “We have to make some hard decisions over the next couple of days.”
The Caps played host to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Thursday evening. They close out the exhibition slate on Friday with a visit to Nanaimo. The regular season starts next Saturday when Cowichan again hosts Nanaimo.