Brian Passmore’s official debut as head coach of the Cowichan Valley Capitals didn’t go as planned.
The Caps dropped their season opener to the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday, giving up seven straight goals, including six in the first period, in an 8-3 loss.
“It was disappointing,” Passmore said. “There was a 10-minute span there where the floodgates opened. Every scoring chance, they got the puck in. We were not defending well, not clearing the puck.”
Opening-day jitters may have played a role, Passmore acknowledged.
“Some kids were like a deer in the headlights, puck watching too much, and not communicating in our zone,” he said. “It snowballed on us for about five or six minutes, and before we knew it, we were down 6-1.”
The Caps actually opened the scoring as veteran forward Haydn Hopkins put his team on the board five minutes and five seconds into the contest. The Clippers responded two and a half minutes later with the first of three goals in a tight 92-second span. By the end of the first, it was 6-1 for Nanaimo.
The Clippers added one more early in the middle frame, but Cowichan got it back with a powerplay goal from second-year Capital Ty Pochipinski. Defenceman Yuri Davis-Martel also scored with the man advantage in the third, but the Clippers had the last word with an empty-netter.
Seventeen-year-old rookie and Cowichan Valley product Cole Broadhurst showed some toughness in the second period when he traded punches with Nanaimo’s Tyler Maser.
“We were happy with the last two periods,” Passmore said. “We have to tighten up defensively, clearly. All we can really do right now is focus on what we can improve on.”
Team defence, across the board, is Passmore’s primary concern after Saturday’s defeat.
“Our focus has to be defence first,” he said. “A positive takeaway is that we didn’t show any quit after the first period.”
The Clippers had an advantage in that they had one game under their belts, a 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs the night before, but Passmore shrugged that off.
“There’s no excuse at all,” he said. “We’re not gonna sweep it under the rug; we’re gonna learn from it.”
The Caps are at home to another strong divisional opponent, the Powell River Kings, this Saturday at 7 p.m., then host the Coquitlam Express on Sunday at 2 p.m.