Cowichan Capitals drop pair to Victoria Grizzlies

The Cowichan Valley Capitals played better last weekend than they had the previous weekend, but they still couldn’t find a way to win.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals played better last weekend than they had the previous weekend, but they still couldn’t find a way to win, and their losing streak stretched to five games with back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Victoria Grizzlies.

The Caps lost 5-4 to the Grizzlies at the Q Centre on Thursday night, then fell 4-2 at the Island Savings Centre the following night.

“I thought we played reasonably well, maybe in streaks, both games, but we were without three veteran defencemen,” Capitals head coach Bob Beatty said. “I still thought we played a pretty efficient game in the first two periods. We made some bad plays in the third period that cost us.”

The Caps led 2-1 at the end of the first period, thanks to goals from John Sladic and Jared Domin. Mitch Skapski and Ayden MacDonald scored for Cowichan in the second as the team clung to a one-goal lead after 40 minutes. The Grizzlies tied things up with the lone goal of the third, then won the game in the first overtime.

Domin and Sladic each finished with a goal and an assist, and Michael Montambault and Max Newton each had two helpers. Cowichan goalie Lane Michasiw made 47 saves in the loss.

The Caps fell behind by two goals in the first period on Friday night and were down 3-0 before MacDonald got them on the board at 13:04 of the second. The teams traded goals in the third, with Montambault striking for the Caps. Michasiw stopped 18 of 22 shots.

“I thought we played a decent game,” Beatty said. “We had a couple of lapses in our own end that dug a hole for us. It’s frustrating this time of year to make those mistakes. You like to be a bit tighter in your own end by January. You can live with those things in October.”

During a stoppage in play with exactly one minute left in the second period, a fire alarm went off in the Island Savings Centre, later determined to have been set off during a performance in the nearby theatre. Fans started to head for the exits, but were instructed to return to the seats soon after.

The Grizzlies sit atop the Island Division, 20 points ahead of the third-place Capitals, but based on the way the Caps played for the majority of the last two games, they aren’t that far behind when they are on top of their game.

“To beat a team like Victoria, you have to be at your best,” Beatty said. “You can’t have lapses.”

The Caps were without captain Chris Harpur last weekend as he served a suspension dating back to the previous Saturday, while fellow defencemen Nii Noi Tetteh and Ben Verrall were sidelined with injuries. Harpur has one game left on his suspension, while Verrall has been cleared to play this week.

The Caps visit the fifth-place Alberni Valley Bulldogs this Friday, and host the league-leading Wenatchee Wild on Saturday. The Wild shut out the Caps 5-0 earlier this month.

“[Alberni has] been making a push,” Beatty said. “It’s a huge game Friday night. And it doesn’t get any easier with Wenatchee coming in. We have to have our best effort Saturday to get a win.”