Caps pick up effort, earn weekend split

Bob Beatty came away from last weekend’s split feeling significantly better than he did the weekend before.

Cowichan Valley Capitals head coach Bob Beatty came away from last weekend’s split feeling significantly better than he did after the B.C. Hockey League team collected a tie and a loss the weekend before.

“To be honest, I thought we played well in both games for the most part,” the coach said after his team earned a 6-4 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday before losing 5-2 to the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday. “I liked the way we responded after the last game [a 5-0 loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Jan. 16].”

Even in the 5-2 loss to the Clippers, Beatty wasn’t disappointed in his team.

“I thought we played a really strong game against Nanaimo,” he said. “It was two-all before we ran into some penalty trouble late in the third. I liked our game; I thought it was a good playoff-style game until that point. I thought the result was better left to be determined by the players.”

The Caps led 4-2 after a hectic first period on Friday thanks to two goals by Ayden MacDonald and one each from Kyle Topping and Matt Hudie. The Silverbacks had the only goal of the second, but Kade Kehoe and Josh Adkins scored in the third to seal things up.

On Saturday, Patrick Geary scored late in the first period to tie the game at 1-1, and Kehoe’s goal at 7:57 of the third made it 2-2. The Clippers had three unanswered goals down the stretch to get the victory after the game deteriorated into fisticuffs and Capitals Ryan Burton and Ryan Hogg ended up getting tossed.

Storm Phaneuf got the start in goal both nights. On Friday, he stopped 38 of 42 shots for the win, and on Saturday he gave up four goals on 37 shots in the loss.

Including a four-point weekend for Adkins and three points over two nights for Kehoe, 14 different Cowichan players earned at least one point between the Salmon Arm and Nanaimo games. Few teams in the league can boast as balanced an attack as the Caps, who have 11 players averaging at least half a point a game, and two — Kehoe and Burton — averaging a point a game.

“I think the strength of our team is in the depth,” Beatty said. “You can go through some of the other teams’ scoring statistics, like Nanaimo, for example, and it drops off after the top four or five. A lot of other teams are similar. We have more depth offensively. For some of our guys, that’s not their biggest asset, but they are still contributors. I have thought from the outset that the depth of our team would be one of our strengths.”

The Caps will play another two home games this weekend as they host the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday and the Coquitlam Express on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

The Warriors are tied with Salmon Arm for second place in the Interior Division, and the Express are looking to lock up the fourth playoff spot in the Mainland.

“They are two solid teams and it’s the last two games of our home stand, then we’re on the road for three games,” Beatty pointed out. “We certainly have to take advantage of the games Friday and Saturday night.”