An outstanding performance by the Cowichan Valley Capitals last Saturday night led to the team’s first shutout win of the B.C. Hockey League season. The Caps were less spectacular the following afternoon, but still managed to pull off a victory.
The Caps downed the Island Division-leading Powell River Kings 3-0 on Saturday as goalie Storm Phaneuf had a perfect outing. The next day, they slipped past the Victoria Grizzlies 5-4 on the road at the Q Centre.
“Obviously you can’t complain when you get two wins,” head coach Bob Beatty said. “I think we played very well Saturday night. Not so well [Sunday], but we came out with the win.”
Phaneuf stopped all 30 shots he faced on Saturday to stymie the Kings. As far as Beatty was concerned, the backstop was just continuing the solid play he has provided the Caps all season.
“He’s been giving us real solid goaltending, and he made some pretty clutch saves on Saturday night as well,” Beatty said. “Some nights he’s certainly a big difference in the outcome of the game. Shutout or not, he was certainly a star in the game, no question.”
Phaneuf wasn’t the only star in the contest, as Patrick Geary scored his team-leading eighth and ninth goals. Geary potted the eventual game-winner six minutes and four seconds into the game, and added a shorthanded marker late in the second period. Captain Adam Osczevski scored a powerplay goal with just under five minutes remaining in the first period.
Sunday’s game wasn’t as convincing as the Caps had to battle back from multiple deficits but prevailed in the third period.
“I thought we were a little bit sloppier with the puck, and we weren’t as tight defensively without the puck,” Beatty said. “We gave up a lot of rushes. They are certainly a hard-working team. We’ve played three games against them and they’ve all been one-goal games.
“We played a pretty good third period. It’s not all bad when you win 5-4 and come from behind, but I thought we played a much more efficient game Saturday than Sunday.”
After the Grizzlies opened the scoring, the Caps went ahead on a powerplay goal by Carter Cochrane and a shorthanded marker by Matt Hudie. The Grizzlies potted a shorty of their own with nine seconds left in the frame, and the teams went to the dressing rooms knotted at 2-2.
The Grizzlies again went ahead at 13:26 of the second, but Luke Santerno drew the Caps even again. Once more, the Grizzlies scored late in the period and were ahead 4-3 when the buzzer went. Osczevski tied the score in the third, and Santerno’s second of the contest at 11:50 ended up being the game-winner.
Cochrane and Osczevski ended the night with a goal and an assist apiece, and newly acquired forward Rhett Willcox had two helpers. Phaneuf stopped 30 of 34 shots over the first 54 minutes of the game before leaving with severe cramps. Affiliate goalie Michael Lenko replaced him for the balance of the game and turned aside all five shots he faced.
Willcox was acquired on Friday from the Trail Smoke Eaters in exchange for defenceman Mitch Stapley and made an immediate impact with his new team. In 105 previous BCHL games with Trail and the Merritt Centennials, he had scored 19 goals and set up 29 others.
“Saturday night I thought he had a real good game,” Beatty said. “He took care of the details pretty well. He made some good plays. He is certainly a good addition to our team. On Sunday he made a great play on our fourth goal. He’s certainly going to be a good addition.
“He’s been well-coached and he’s a smart player, a veteran player. This is his third year in the league. He sees the ice well and plays hard.”
The Caps now sit second in the Island Division, although their win percentage is higher than first-place Powell River. Only the Penticton Vees have a higher rate of victory than the Caps.
Cowichan will visit the Nanaimo Clippers on Friday night and host Penticton on Saturday with a 6 p.m. start.
Friday’s game will be the first meeting of the regular season with the Clippers, who are just behind the Caps in the Island Division. The teams split their two preseason exhibition games.
The Vees are on a 12-game winning streak, and haven’t lost since their regular-season opener on Sept. 11.
“They’re two tough teams, two of the better teams in the league, no doubt,” Beatty said. “It will be a good benchmark for us.”