Look out for the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
In five games over the first 11 days of December, the Caps picked up three wins, one regulation loss and one shootout loss for seven points in the B.C. Hockey League standings. That’s the same number of wins and more points than the team collected in 19 games over the months of October and November combined.
“Those are good results for the guys. They’ve played really well and deserved the wins,” Caps head coach Brian Passmore said after a road trip last weekend that saw the team win back-to-back games for the first time this season. “We’ve been finding our groove. We’re fully healthy. Everyone has found a role on the team and played well within that role.”
The victories last weekend were vastly different, as the Caps came back from a three-goal deficit to beat the Powell River Kings 4-3 in overtime on Friday, then defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 4-1 on Saturday.
The Kings were up 3-0 after two periods on Friday, but the Caps controlled the final 20 minutes.
“We came out in the third and put our workboots on,” Passmore said. “I thought we dominated the third.”
Shane LaVelle got the Caps on the board at 3:56 of the third. Down by a pair with less than three minutes left in regulation, the Caps pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. That tactic hadn’t done the Caps any good so far in the season, but it worked this time, as Ian Kern twice, the second goal coming in the final second of the period. Massimo Sarantos Lombardi, who had the first assist on Kern’s game-tying goal, scored the winner at 1:09 of the extra frame.
“We kind of had a feeling on the bench that there was no way we were going to drop this now,” Passmore said. “And Powell River was probably a little deflated after giving up that one in the last second.”
McCoy Bidewell made 28 saves in the Cowichan net as the Caps outshot the Kings 45-31.
A long bus ride the next day, including two ferries, didn’t kill the momentum as the Caps took control against Chilliwack from the start.
“We said we were going to play a simple game, take care of the puck and outwork them. And that’s exactly what the guys did.”
Aidan Cobb opened the scoring on a first-period powerplay. The Chiefs made it 1-1 in the second, but the Caps pulled ahead in the third with powerplay goals from Luke Haymes and newly acquired defenceman Connor Elliott. Sarantos Lombardi iced the win with an empty-netter.
“We got the lead on the powerplay, played smart hockey, worked hard and did whatever we needed to do to get two points,” Passmore said.
Elliott and Sarantos Lombardi each had a goal and an assist against Chilliwack, and Mason Croucher had two helpers. Evan May finished with 23 saves as the Caps were outshot 24-21.
After the weekend games, the Caps now have 13 points in the standings, two back of the Coquitlam Express for eighth in the Coastal Conference. Cowichan played host to Nanaimo on Wednesday and will visit the Clippers on Friday before starting the Christmas break.
Last time the teams met, on Dec. 3, the Caps beat the Clippers 3-2 in their own barn for their first win over a Coastal Conference opponent this season.
“I kind of wish we could keep playing,” Passmore said. “We’re finding a groove. This is a big series with Nanaimo. The points are big. We just want to keep playing the same way.”