Without their captain and leading goal-scorer in the lineup, the Cowichan Valley Capitals regrouped last Friday and cruised to a 5-1 home win over the Powell River Kings.
Adam Osczevski, the Cowichan captain and captain and reigning B.C. Hockey League Player of the Week was serving the first half of a two-game suspension for checking from behind following an incident in the Sept. 12 win over Port Alberni, the same game in which he potted four goals.
“It was surprising,” Capitals head coach Bob Beatty admitted. “Alberni sent in a clip for supplemental discipline he didn’t get a penalty on.”
Osczevski’s absence led to some line-juggling by the Capitals bench boss, as affiliate Steven Fiust drew into the lineup and 16-year-old rookie Shawn Kennedy found himself in Osczevski’s spot on the top line with Kade Kehoe and Ryan Burton. Those changes didn’t slow down the Capitals.
“We got scoring from all four lines, which was great to see,” Beatty pointed out.
Burton opened the scoring in the first period, and Daniel Wanner, Patrick Geary and Kyle Topping all found the back of the net in the second before the Kings finally solved Cowichan goalie Storm Phaneuf. Burton added his second of the game on a third-period powerplay, with Kehoe picking up his second assist of the contest.
“Obviously, they’re a tough team to play against,” Beatty said of the Kings. “They play a physical game. But we got some puck luck, and our goaltending was outstanding.”
The Caps were outshot 33-23, the third time in three games that the game sheet has listed a higher shot total for the Capitals’ opponent, but that fact doesn’t worry Beatty.
“That’s not a concern,” he said. “If they were out-chancing us 2-1, I think we’d be a little concerned.”
The Caps are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2007/08 campaign, but Beatty is quick to point out that it’s still very early in a long season.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” he said. “There are lots of areas we’d like to clean up. We’re not getting carried away with ourselves; it’s only three games.”
This weekend, the Caps will head to Chilliwack for the annual Bauer BCHL Showcase. Traditionally held at the very beginning of the regular season, the Showcase was moved back this year in order to give the teams some time to get in game shape. Beatty believes that will lead to a better product for the scouts who attend the event in droves.
“I think it will be better,” he said. “There is more structure to the teams.”
While the benefits to the Showcase are obvious, in that it allows the scouts to see the teams in one place, Beatty acknowledges it isn’t a perfect situation.
“It can be a bit of a distraction,” he said. “Sometimes the players try to do a little too much; they’re more interested in what they’re doing than in the success of the team for that weekend.”
Still, the coach believes his group can focus on the task at hand and play the way they need to in order to win as a team.
“We have good leadership and enough selfless players to go out and play a good team game,” he said. “The points do count in the standings, so it’s pretty crucial.”
At the Showcase, the Caps will play the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday afternoon and the Vernon Vipers on Sunday morning. The Caps don’t know a great deal about either team going in.
“We’ll have to do a little homework and get prepared,” Beatty said. “We know some of their traditional tendencies, but not a lot of their personnel.”
According to Beatty, Osczevski will be able to play the Showcase games, then sit out the first game of the Caps’ Mainland Division road trip on the first weekend of October.