Jack Grant’s 29 saves backstopped the Caps to their first win of the 2018-19 season, 4-0 over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Port Alberni on Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Jack Grant’s 29 saves backstopped the Caps to their first win of the 2018-19 season, 4-0 over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Port Alberni on Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Capitals earn first win in shutout style

Team effort helps Jack Grant blank Bulldogs

An outstanding team effort backed up by stellar goaltending earned the Cowichan Valley Capitals their first win of the 2018-19 B.C. Hockey League season.

The Caps’ best game of the young campaign, and a 29-save performance by goalie Jack Grant resulted in a 4-0 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Port Alberni.

The victory came on the heels of a 4-2 loss at home against the Penticton Vees on Friday.

“We did some good things on Friday, too,” Cowichan head coach Mike Vandekamp said. “We didn’t lose any confidence overnight. On Saturday, things kind of came together better for us, from a results standpoint.

“We’re trying to cut down on little mistakes. We don’t want other teams to get anything for free. I think we did a better job that way.”

Vandekamp was impressed with Grant, but made sure to spread credit for the win to the rest of the squad.

“He played solid,” the coach said. “He made some timely saves for sure. I think a shutout is more a reflection of the team. The team has to play well to get a shutout, but he was definitely solid.”

The 19-year-old Grant played the last two seasons in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League before the Caps acquired him over the summer

“He came highly regarded,” Vandekamp said. “We had done our homework on him. He’s shown he’s a good goaltender. What we’re looking for from him is consistency. You don’t want a goalie who’s going to let in a whole bunch of goals one night, then get a shutout the next night. Consistency is the next step for him.”

Ryan Moon had first- and third-period goals for the Caps, while Dan McIntyre and Dimitri Mikrogiannakis scored in the second, Mikrogiannakis’s goal coming on the powerplay.

“Both his goals were kind of around the net-front area,” Vandekamp noted of Moon. “He’s a big guy and he has pretty good hands; he has to be in those dirty areas to score.”

At home on Friday, the Caps played a solid game against the Vees as they fell 4-2.

“Penticton has been one of the best teams in the league for a while now,” Vandekamp pointed out. “For a new team, which is basically what we are, we played well against them.”

Three things, in particular, might have changed the result against Penticton, Vandekamp suggested: a missed breakaway on the next shift after Preston Brodziak scored to cut Penticton’s lead to 2-1; the Vees’ goal with just 17 seconds left at the end of the second period that sucked the wind out of the Caps’ sails; and the sheer number of penalties the Caps had to kill off.

“The goal is to go 100 per cent on the penalty kill every night,” Vandekamp said. “But you can’t do that when you’re taking 10 penalties a night.”

Olivier Gauthier had the Caps’ other goal on the powerplay with less than two minutes left in the game. Mikrogiannakis assisted on both Cowichan goals, and with Saturday’s goal now has three points in his first two games as a Capital.

“We like him,” Vandekamp said of the newly arrived blueliner. “He’s a good player. He’s a big guy. He skates well for a big guy. He’s big in the corners. He plays a physical game. I think he will be a real good asset. He’s a real good all-around defenceman.”

The Caps are off to Chilliwack this weekend for the BCHL Showcase, where they will play the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday and the Coquitlam Express on Saturday. Designed to give university and pro scouts a chance to see all the players in one place, the Showcase is good for the recruiters and players, although it can be distracting, Vandekamp admits.

“For coaches, it is distracting for sure, but you’ve got to accept it for what it is,” he said. “What is the goal for the team at the higher level? It’s to win a championship. They’re looking for players who win. I think when you win, it shows a lot better than when you’re on the other side.”

Following the Showcase, the Caps will be home next Wednesday against the Victoria Grizzlies at 7 p.m., then host the Chiefs on Sunday at 6 p.m.