Vincent Millette returned to action for the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Wednesday night, but his presence wasn’t enough to get the team back in the win column.
Millette had two assists for the Caps in his first game since suffering an injury in Penticton on Oct. 13 as Cowichan lost 4-3 to his former team, the Nanaimo Clippers. Prior to the injury, the 20-year-old team captain was off to a good start with nine points in 13 games.
The visiting Clippers opened the scoring just two minutes and 17 seconds into the first period, and led 2-0 before Millette set up Paul Selleck with 52 seconds left in the opening frame. Former Cap Jonathan Stein restored Nanaimo’s two-goal lead late in the second period, and the Clippers got a shorthanded marker 25 seconds into the third to go up 4-1.
Defenceman Dimitri Mikrogiannakis and forward Luc Wilson, on the powerplay, scored to get the Caps within one, but the tying goal proved elusive.
David Melaragni had a pair of assists on the night to bring his team-leading point total to 30 on the season (six goals and 24 assists). Blake Wood started the game in net and allowed two goals on eight shots over 13 minutes and 53 seconds. Jack Grant played the next 45:19, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced. The Caps had 25 of their 28 shots on Nanaimo’s Landon Pavlisin turned aside.
The Caps went one-for-two on the powerplay and killed off Nanaimo’s four opportunities.
Over the previous weekend, the Caps gave away third-period leads in their last two games of 2018, falling 4-3 at home against the Powell River Kings on Saturday and 5-4 on the road against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Sunday.
The Caps took a 3-2 lead into the final frame on Saturday, only to give up a pair of goals. Grant was pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute of play, to no avail.
After neither team scored in the first period, the Kings struck first, just 15 seconds into the middle section. Olivier Gauthier replied at 2:03 on Cowichan’s only powerplay of the night, and Dan McIntyre put the Caps ahead 52 seconds after that. The Kings got even again just before the nine-minute mark, but Niko Esposito-Selivanov restored the Caps lead with 6:08 left in the second.
Grant finished the night with 38 saves on 42 shots. Powell River goalie Mitch Adamyk made 22 stops for his fourth win against the Caps this season.
The Caps lost a pair of top-six forwards to suspensions resulting from the Powell River tilt as Lucas Vanroboys was dealt three games for receiving a gross misconduct and Brady Lynn got eight games for kicking. It marks the third suspension this season for Vanroboys and the second for Lynn.
The Caps took a 4-2 edge into the final frame of Sunday night’s road game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, but gave up three unanswered goals, including two on the powerplay, to lose 5-4. At home on Saturday, the Caps led the Powell River Kings 3-2 after 40 minutes, only to end up on the losing side of a 4-3 final tally.
Wilson opened the scoring for the Caps on the powerplay. The Bulldogs replied soon after, but the Caps got goals from Melaragni and Adam Conquest in the last two and a half minutes of the first to take a 3-1 lead into intermission. The teams swapped goals in the second, Preston Brodziak scoring for Cowichan, before Alberni took over the scoreboard in the third.
The Caps were outshot 29-25. Grant made 20 saves in the Cowichan net, while Chemainus product John Hawthorne got the win with 25 saves in Alberni’s end.
The Caps go into the weekend with a record of 10 wins, 24 regulation losses, four overtime losses and one shootout loss. They sit fifth in the Island Division, three points back of the Bulldogs, who have a game in hand. The Caps are also 16th in the league standings, six points ahead of the last-place Surrey Eagles, although the Eagles have two games in hand on Cowichan.
The Caps will play host to the league-leading Prince George Spruce Kings on Saturday at 6 p.m. before playing their next four games on the road.