With a pair of losses to the Powell River Kings last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals have dropped into third place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division.
It wasn’t long ago that the Caps were sitting atop the division, but after losing four of their last five games, all against division rivals, the Caps have dropped to the middle of the standings.
After 28 games, the Caps have 32 points, which is three fewer than the Nanaimo Clippers, and one behind the Kings.
Heading into last weekend, the Caps had managed to beat Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-3 at home last Wednesday.
“That was a win that we needed going through a tough stretch,” head coach Bob Beatty noted. “We only got one point out of the previous weekend, so those were two desperately needed points. It wasn’t a classic game, but we played well enough to win.”
The Caps outscored the Bulldogs 2-1 in each of the first two periods, and the teams traded goals in the third. Rhett Willcox and Kade Kehoe each finished the night with a goal and an assist, while Mitch Meek, Ayden MacDonald and Matthew Hudie also scored. Connor Russell, Ryan Burton and Luke Santerno each had a pair of helpers. Storm Phaneuf picked up the win with 35 saves on 38 shots.
In Powell River, the Caps were beaten 6-1 on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday.
“We didn’t play well Friday night,” Beatty said. “It’s a tough place to play; they’re a good team. Saturday night I thought we deserved to win, but we came up short.”
On Friday, Hudie scored with just over five minutes left, after the Caps were already down 6-0. The Kings scored four goals on the powerplay, including three in the third period. Phaneuf started the game and lasted just over 44 minutes, allowing five goals on 35 shots. Lane Michasiw played the balance and stopped eight of nine shots.
The Caps opened the scoring on Saturday as Adam Osczevski converted an early powerplay opportunity, but it was all Powell River after that. Former Capital Rylan Ball tied the game midway through the first period, and the Kings added two more in the third, including an empty-netter. Phaneuf started again and went the distance this time, giving up just two goals on 29 shots.
“We had a goal called back, and we argued that the net went off on one of their goals,” Beatty said. “You’re going to have games where you don’t get any breaks, and that was one of them.”
The Caps have a tough road trip this weekend as they visit the West Kelowna Warriors, Vernon Vipers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who are all among the top four teams in the Interior Division. West Kelowna and Salmon Arm both have more points than the Caps so far this season and Vernon is close behind.
“They’re three extremely good hockey teams,” Beatty said. “We’ll have to muster up some intensity in all three games to get points.”
The Caps expect to get defenceman Ben Verrall back from injury this weekend, while forward Daniel Wanner remains on the shelf, probably until after Christmas. Blueliner Carter Cochrane has been summoned to the WHL’s Vancouver Giants for at least a three-game tryout.