The Cowichan Valley Capitals faced a team other than the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the first time in the B.C. Hockey League’s extended preseason last Saturday, and came away with a 3-2 loss to the visiting Victoria Grizzlies.
The Caps started the game on the attack, and were rewarded just three and a half minutes in when Brendan Kerr opened the scoring. Victoria tied the score late in the first period, went ahead in the second, then made it 3-1 with just under six minutes left to play. Jacob Brockman scored his fifth goal of the preseason at 18:03 of the third, but that was as close as the Caps would get. Lucas Pfeil made 31 saves in the Cowichan net, while Justin Easter had 28 stops at the other end.
“We made a few mistakes with the puck, and they capitalized,” Capitals interim head coach Brian Passmore said. “There weren’t too many penalties, and it was a pretty intense game. I thought our play overall was pretty sound.”
Passmore liked his team’s forecheck and energy against Victoria, but felt the players could have been better on the backcheck and around the Grizzlies’ net.
“Our goalie played well and our defence played well,” he said. “The mistakes around their goal were our own mistakes, and we can fix those. If we can capitalize on those, we win the game.”
The loss dropped the Caps’ exhibition record to 2-3. The team was set to visit the Nanaimo Clippers on Wednesday evening, and again on Friday, then travel to Victoria on Saturday for a rematch with the Grizzlies. All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. and aired on HockeyTV.
The Capitals made another adjustment to their roster on Monday, trading 2002-born defenceman Jackson Murphy-Johnson to the Coquitlam Express for future considerations. Murphy-Johnson made two preseason appearances for the Caps, and was held without a point. The Burnaby product had five points in 38 games as a rookie for the Trail Smoke Eaters last year before a series of offseason trades sent his rights through Prince George and Grande Prairie to Cowichan.
Last week the Caps brought in Ronan Walsh and Sam Schofield from Salmon Arm and Brett Fudger and Colby Feist from Vernon, and are waiting for them to go through 14-day quarantine before they can play. Including those four, they now have the maximum of 25 players in their bubble. They can carry 25 once the season begins, but will still have to dress just 20, setting up some clashes for ice time.
“They’re all battling for roster spots and to be in and out of the lineup,” Passmore said. “And they’re starting to gel as a team. We have solid depth in our lineup with these additions. Now that we have the pieces here, we want to work with these kids.”