Caps impress coach with back-to-back wins

Even Bob Beatty was pleased with the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ performance last weekend.

Even Bob Beatty was pleased with the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ performance last weekend.

The head coach is usually difficult to please, but he had little to complain about after his team won a pair of B.C. Hockey League games on Friday and Saturday.

“I thought we played very well, actually,” he admitted. “We had a couple of good back-to-back games. I liked our play a lot better.”

Playing on the road Friday, the Caps got by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3 in overtime. Back home at the Island Savings Centre the next evening, they defeated the Langley Rivermen 5-2.

On Friday, the Caps fell behind 1-0 and 3-2, but tied the game late in the second period, then won it in the first overtime on rookie defenceman Sam Jones’s first BCHL goal.

“It was a close game,” Beatty said. “I thought we played pretty well.”

Ryan Burton, Luke Santerno and Ryan Hogg also scored for the Caps, and goalie Lane Michasiw made 34 saves to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.

On Saturday, the Caps fell behind 2-0, but got themselves on the board just eight ticks after Langley’s second goal, and dominated the rest of the contest.

“We showed good resolve there, a good response,” Beatty said. “We were playing the way we like to play: we put pressure on their defence, we were physical, we were getting pucks turned over.”

Kade Kehoe scored twice to bookend the second period, and three other players had two-point nights against Langley: Santerno with a goal and an assist, and Burton and Jared Domin with two helpers apiece. Matt Hudie and Josh Adkins also scored, Adkins with his fourth goal in four games with Cowichan. Storm Phaneuf had another excellent outing in net, stopping 31 of 33 shots for his 17th win of the season.

Beatty was impressed with the way everyone on his roster stepped up over the weekend.

“I thought we had a pretty good four-line rotation both games,” he said, noting that the only thing to interrupt that flow was when Jacob Switzer received a game misconduct after a fight midway through the second period against Alberni.

Led by stalwart Chris Harpur, the Cowichan blueline corps also performed well, bolstered on Friday by affiliate player Scott Munro, a 1996-born defender called up from the junior B North Vancouver Wolf Pack to fill in for the injured Mitch Meek.

“He’s a big, physical defenceman,” Beatty said of Munro. “He looks like a junior A player right now. He’s not out of his league. I think we’ll be seeing more of him.”

Meek’s spot on Saturday was filled by Ryan Warner, a 1998 player summoned from the Peninsula Panthers.

The Caps made one move at the BCHL trade deadline last Sunday, adding 19-year-old forward Corey Hoffman from the Prince George Spruce Kings for future considerations. In his first BCHL season, Hoffman has scored 11 goals and assisted on 20 more for 31 points in 41 games. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound product of Syosset, New York, played last season with the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League, and has already committed to Cornell University for fall 2016.

Hoffman played the 2012/13 season alongside Domin with the Detroit-based Belle Tire U16 program. He will add yet another offensive weapon to the Capitals’ stocked arsenal.

“He’s a skilled forward who I think will add some scoring depth and interchangeability to our lineup if we get injuries or if we need to shake things up. He brings some offensive punch to our lineup and makes us a little deeper in the skilled forward category.”

The Caps hosted the Victoria Grizzlies on Tuesday, and will play a home-and-home against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this coming weekend, in Duncan Friday and Port Alberni Saturday.