Changes coming as Cowichan Caps continue to struggle

With a record of two wins and 11 losses – including back-to-back one-sided defeats at the hands of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last weekend – the Cowichan Valley Capitals are likely to make some changes to their roster in the near future, head coach and general manager Bob Beatty admitted.

"We have to address the problem," he said on Tuesday morning. "It’s safe to say the phone has been pretty busy the last two and a half days."

Beatty has been working the phones particularly hard after the Caps lost both ends of a home-andhome series with the Bulldogs, falling 7-3 in Port Alberni last Friday and 8-1 at home on Saturday. "The games were obviously disappointing for everyone involved," he said. "The fans were disappointed, we’re disappointed, and I hope the players are as embarrassed as we are."

The Caps went into the weekend decimated both physically – Colton Kehler has been playing hurt and Thomas Gobeil remains out of the lineup, while Jesse Neher was just able to return to action – and morale-wise, having lost a string of one-goal games, including several in which they probably deserved better results. Those things combined to wear down the players.

"It’s more than morale; it’s confidence," Beatty said. "We do have a lot of young players, and some young guys I believe in, and we’re putting them in situations we’d prefer to ease them into. They’re in the fire, learning under pressure, and that’s probably not the best fit."

While many of the younger players in particular have been battling, Beatty acknowledges that some players just aren’t pulling their weight.

"We’ve got warriors and great young players, but some players seem to be passengers at this point," he said. "I don’t know how many second and third chances we can absorb."

Last Friday, the Caps allowed the first goal of the game 39 seconds after the opening faceoff, and trailed 3-0 before captain Kyle Horsman got the Caps on the board. After a scoreless second period, Alberni went ahead 5-1 with a pair of powerplay goals just 39 seconds apart early in the third.

Neher and Luke Novak scored for the Caps after that, but in both cases, the Bulldogs responded soon after. Cowichan goalie Matt

Zentner made 52 saves on 59 shots, while the Caps had 37 shots on the Alberni net, with Billy Christopoulos stopping 34.

On Saturday, the Caps again allowed an early goal, this time just 74 seconds in, and again trailed 3-0 before Horsman scored a powerplay goal early in the second period. The Bulldogs added two goals late in that frame and three more, including two on the powerplay, in the third.

Lane Michasiw started in goal and gave up three goals on 11 shots. Zentner replaced him at the start of the second period and made 23 saves on 28 shots.

With just four points through 13 games, the Caps sit last in the Island Division and in the B.C. Hockey League overall. They are tied with the Langley Rivermen for the second-fewest goals-for with 31, and have the second-most goals-against with 57.

The team still isn’t done with the Bulldogs, as they return to Port Alberni on Friday, hoping to turn the tables.

"Obviously we’ve given them a lot of confidence," Beatty said. "They’re a good team, but I don’t think we’ve played to our potential. We need to adjust our work ethic, and maybe make some personnel changes. There’s no magic solution. If we could buy one, we’d certainly do it."

The Caps will host the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday at 7 p.m., and the Nanaimo Clippers will visit next Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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