Capitals centre Ty Pochipinski is tied up in front of the Wenatchee Wild net during last Sunday’s game. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Improved Caps take Wild to OT

Defence and discpipline looking better

The Cowichan Valley Capitals game against the Wenatchee Wild on Sunday was a far cry from the team’s previous meeting.

The Caps lost 4-3 in overtime at home on Sunday afternoon, and even held the lead for much of the contest — a marked improvement from their 11-1 loss to the Wild in Wenatchee on Sept. 29.

The result wasn’t exactly what the Caps were hoping for, but it showed they’ve taken some big steps.

“We wanted the two points badly,” Cowichan head coach Brian Passmore said. “We needed them. For the effort put in, we wanted a better result. Sometimes, getting better is painful. It’s a growing experience, a learning experience.

Hugh Larkin opened the scoring at 5:48 of the first period in the Caps’ first home game since Sept. 17. The Wild replied, but Ty Pochipinski restored the Cowichan lead with a powerplay marker before the period was over, his team-leading fifth goal of the season.

Alexandre Drapeau added another powerplay goal early in the second, but Wenatchee got back within a goal with just over five minutes left in the third, then evened things up at 14:50. The Wild needed just two minutes and 35 seconds of overtime for Jasper Weatherby to pot the winner.

Yann Dery stopped 34 of 39 shots in the Cowichan net, and Austin Park made 22 saves for Wenatchee. The Caps went 2-for-5 on the powerplay, while Wenatchee was 2-for-6.

“It comes back to we’ve got to manage the puck better,” Passmore said. “[The Wild] are moving the puck, trying to generate chances.”

The overtime defeat came two days after a 5-2 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies at the Q Centre. Compared to most of their road games, the Caps got off to a good start, and the teams were scoreless after one period. The Grizzlies scored twice in the second, and the third was closer as Victoria potted three to Cowichan’s two. Recent acquisitions Raphael Gosselin and Andrew McCann did the scoring for the Caps.

Adam Marcoux stopped 34 of 39 shots in the Cowichan net, while the Caps beat Shawn Parkinson twice on 30 shots. The Caps went 0-for-5 with the man advantage and allowed one powerplay goal on seven opportunities. All of Victoria’s goals were scored either on breakaways or two-on-one rushes.

“I didn’t think we played a smart third period,” Passmore said. “Trying to get the next goal cost us.”

As a whole, Passmore is pleased with his team’s trajectory.

“Overall, we were just better on the weekend than we were the previous weekend,” he said.

The team has improved specifically in terms of defence and discipline.

“If we play that way every game, I think we’ll get closer to where we want to be,” Passmore noted.

Passmore dressed affiliate players Jojo Tanaka-Campbell and Brett Roloson for both weekend games, and Landon Dziadyk on Friday, sitting some veterans as healthy scratches to make a point about discipline, and it seems to be working.

“It’s a hard lesson,” the coach said. “Everyone respects that. And I think the teammates are holding each other accountable in a positive way.”

Still fifth in the Island division and 17th in the BCHL with one win, eight losses and one overtime defeat, the Caps will look to continue their improvement as they play a home-and-home series against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this coming weekend, at the Island Savings Centre on Friday, facing off at 7 p.m., and in Port Alberni on Saturday. The 3-5-1-1 Bulldogs are fourth in the Island, just ahead of the Caps.

“This is a huge weekend,” Passmore said. “We need points and they’re right in front of us in the division. We’ve got to get these results.”

This will be the last chance for fans to see the Caps at home until Oct. 28 as they head off on another three-game roadtrip on Oct. 20-22.

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