Olivier Gauthier scored the Caps’ first goal of the weekend against the Powell River Kings. (Citizen file)

Olivier Gauthier scored the Caps’ first goal of the weekend against the Powell River Kings. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Capitals split with Powell River after slow start

Caps play Kings again on Wednesday, this time at home

The Cowichan Valley Capitals played their worst hockey in a long time during their trip to Powell River last weekend, but fortunately, it lasted just two periods.

The Caps were beaten 7-0 by the Powell River Kings on Friday night for their first and only regulation loss in the month of January. They turned things around before that game was over, then beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime the following day.

“The first game was kind of a weird game,” Caps head coach Mike Vandekamp said. “We just didn’t have the legs to start the game. There were a lot of weird bounces; it seemed like everything they fired at our net went in. Then the second period ended and from there we played good for the rest of the weekend.

“I thought we played pretty well in the second game. I guess in a 58-game season you might have a bad game.”

The Caps hadn’t lost in regulation since Dec. 20, a span of 12 games, so Friday’s result came as a bit of a shock.

“It was definitely weird to suddenly lose so badly. The thing is to bounce back and avoid any major steps backward, and I thought we did a nice job of that.”

That response started in the third period on Friday when, despite trailing by an imposing seven-goal margin, the Caps dominated play and outshot the Kings 16-6 over the final 20 minutes.

“We needed that to get our minds and bodies in the right place to start that second game,” Vandekamp said.

Crofton product Derek Krall posted the shutout on Friday, finishing with 37 saves. Zach Borgiel started for Cowichan and stopped 19 of 23 shots over 27:49 before he was replaced by Ben Howard, who made 12 saves on 15 shots.

On Saturday, Cowichan’s Olivier Gauthier opened the scoring 14 seconds into the second period. Defenceman Austin Chorney made it 2-0 early in the third with his first goal as a Capital, but the Kings tied the score, all before the 4:02 mark. Matt Crasa was the overtime hero, scoring his team-leading 25th goal 54 seconds into the extra frame. Borgiel and Krall both finished with 28 saves as the Caps outshot the Kings 31-30.

The Caps are still seven points ahead of Nanaimo for first in the Island Division, and the Caps have six games remaining in the regular season to Nanaimo’s eight. The Kings, meanwhile, have seven games left and an outside chance to catch the Clippers for second in the division, while also needing to hold off fourth-place Alberni Valley.

All that will come into play again on Wednesday when the Caps host the Kings at 7 p.m.

“We’re in a weird spot, playing the same team three times in a row,” Vandekamp said. “That’s nine periods against the same team. We’ll take off where we left off Saturday night.

“Hopefully we’ll get right back on track, play well on Wednesday, and keep moving forward.”