The Cowichan Valley Capitals fired a lot of rubber at opposing goaltenders on the weekend.
Over their last two home games of 2019, both of which went beyond regulation time, the Caps combined for more than 100 shots on goal: 42 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday night, and 59 in a 3-2 shootout win over the Merritt Centennials on Saturday.
Numbers like that show how dominant the Caps were in the two contests, but head coach Mike Vandekamp would have liked to see all those shots turn into more than four regulation goals.
“We’ve got to buckle down and bury our chances,” Vandekamp said. “We got three of four points, we outshot out opponents substantially, but we’ve got to put the puck in the net.”
On Friday, the Caps created nearly half of their shots — 18 of 42 — in the second period, but managed just one goal when captain Cruz Cote gave Cowichan a 2-1 lead midway through the frame. The Caps also poured on the pressure in the third, after Alberni made it 2-2 early in the period, but were unable to beat Bulldogs netminder Jackson Glassford. The Bulldogs ended up potting the winner at 1:24 of overtime. Cote also assisted on Dimitri Mikrogiannakis’s first-period goal, and Ben Howard stopped 29 of 32 shots in the Cowichan net.
“That was an interesting game,” Vandekamp said. “We carried a lot of the play. We were playing well, but in the second, we couldn’t find a way to score. It was a game that felt like we played pretty well. It slipped away on us.”
On Saturday, the Caps were largely stymied through regulation by Merritt goalie Tanner Marshall, who finished with 57 saves.
“The other team’s goaltender, for the second night in a row, was the story of the game,” Vandekamp said. “We were probably hitting him with some shots, too, but he was definitely a difference-maker.”
Only Matt Crasa was able to solve the Centennials backstop as he scored twice, becoming just the third B.C. Hockey League player to hit the 20-goal mark this season.
Crasa’s second of the night came in dramatic fashion as the Caps found themselves trailing 2-1 and down a man after Tanner Sidaway took a five-minute major with just over a minute left to play. The Caps pulled their goalie and Crasa scored off a faceoff with just 13 seconds remaining. Cowichan spent most of overtime killing off the rest of the penalty to reach the shootout, where Will Arquiett scored the lone goal, while Zach Borgiel stopped all three Merritt shooters.
The Caps will hit the road this weekend, visiting the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday, the Penticton Vees on Saturday, and the Centennials on Sunday. With holiday-related distractions in their billet homes, and players thinking about getting back to their own hometowns and families, this might be the optimal time for a weekend road trip, Vandekamp said.
“Getting out on a road trip this time of year is a good thing. Hopefully we’ll get as many points as we can and send the guys home for Christmas break.”