Crunch time closing in on Caps

The Cowichan Valley Capitals playoff chances took a bit of a hit over the weekend after their own 4-3 overtime loss to the Merritt Centennials was followed the next day by a victory for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

With just four games left in the regular season, the Caps and Bulldogs are now tied at 46 points apiece. The Caps do hold the first tie-breaker, with 20 wins to the Bulldogs’ 19.

"We sure could have used the two points [for a win]," head coach Bob Beatty admitted. "I don’t think it was a classic downthe-stretch effort. We didn’t finish enough checks or get enough pucks on net. We weren’t as good as we had been playing prior to last Sunday’s game [a 3-0 loss to Coquitlam on Feb. 9]."

The decisive goal came on the first shift of the first overtime. Playing four-on-four, the Caps turned the puck over at the offensive blue line, and Merritt’s Sebastien Pare made them pay for the error.

"We didn’t seal our man going to the net, and he scored on the rebound," Beatty said.

The Caps opened the scoring midway through the first period on Taylor Allan’s seventh goal of the season. After falling behind 2-1, the Caps regained the lead thanks to powerplay markers by Myles Powell and Rylan Bechtel,

who finished the night with two points. The Centennials tied it up with five and a half minutes left in regulation.

The Caps were out-shot 33-22, Robin Gusse making 19 saves in the losing effort.

Getting deeper into crunch time, Cowichan will play host to the Nanaimo Clippers at 7 p.m. this Friday, then visit the Powell River Kings on Saturday.

"It’s going right down to the wire," Beatty said. "It doesn’t get any bigger than this Friday night."

Beatty hopes to use the Clippers’ chippy tendencies against them.

"They’re a team that likes to mix it up after the whistle," he said. "There’s a lot more at stake for us; we have to focus on what we have to get done."

The Caps have experienced against the Kings in recent weeks, taking points in four of their last five games, each one decided by a single goal.

"We have to play them tough," Beatty said. "This is the sixth time in the last month or so we’ve played them, so we’ll have to dig down and get a win in this last meeting for sure."