After a tough loss to a divisional opponent in their season opener last weekend, things won’t get any easier for the Cowichan Valley Capitals when they play host to the Powell River Kings this Saturday.
Expected to be among the stronger squads in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division, the Kings are also the team that eliminated the Caps from the both the 2016 and 2017 playoffs. Among their offensive leaders is Duncan’s own Ben Berard, who has three assists in the Kings’ first two games.
The Caps will have to bounce back from their 8-3 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers last weekend to challenge the Kings.
“Powell River is a strong team,” Cowichan head coach Brian Passmore said. “We’ll have to show really quick what we’ve learned.”
The Caps will be back in action on Sunday afternoon against the Coquitlam Express. The Express have played just once so far this season, tying the Surrey Eagles 2-2.
“We don’t know much about them,” Passmore said. “All the teams in the league will be solid.”
Passmore knew immediately after his team’s loss last Saturday what needed to be done to prepare for this weekend.
“Defence first — that’s the mindset we need to have,” he said.
Saturday’s game is at 7 pm. and Sunday’s is at 2 p.m. This will be the last chance for Capitals fans to see the team in action at home until Oct. 8. The Caps are away at the Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack next weekend, then head off on a road trip to end September and begin October.
Sporting the captain’s “C” on his jersey for the first time last weekend was Troy MacTavish, a newcomer to Cowichan who was elected to the position by his teammates.
“He’s just a really nice kid,” Passmore said. “He cares. He’s always asking questions. He’s respected among his teammates. He was a good choice by his teammates.”
A native of Ottawa who turns 20 on Dec. 10, MacTavish split last year between the Carleton Place Canadians and Kanata Lasers of the Central Canada Hockey League, recording 25 points on 11 goals and 14 assists in 54 games. He’s no stranger to Vancouver Island, having played here in 2015-16, spending 37 games with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers and 10 with the junior B Oceanside Generals.
“He’s a quiet kid who speaks out when he needs to,” Passmore elaborated. “He’s accountable to his teammates. He’s a good choice.”
As of last weekend, the team had named only one alternate captain: veteran forward Haydn Hopkins.
Another 1997 birth, the Victoria native racked up 88 games in the Western Hockey League between the Saskatoon Blades, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants, then played 35 for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters between 2015-16 and 2016-17 before returning to B.C. with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. He was acquired by the Caps in a deadline deal last February and played 15 regular-season games for Cowichan, recording a goal and three assists, then added one goal in four playoff contests.
Hopkins brings experience and leadership to the forward ranks, said Passmore, who plans to round out the trio of alternate captains soon.
“We’ll add another two A’s in the next couple of weeks,” he said.