The Cowichan Valley Capitals scored five unanswered goals, including four in the third period, as they drew first blood in their opening-round B.C. Hockey League series against the Powell River Kings on Friday night.
“It feels good. The first game is always important,” alternate captain Olivier Gauthier commented. “Set the tone, build confidence, and now we just have to keep improving and win games.”
Brady Lynn scored late in the second with his team down 3-1 late in the second, and his teammates carried the momentum into the third. Captain Cruz Cote needed just 17 seconds to even the score in the third period, and Will Arquiett gave Cowichan the lead less than a minute and a half later.
Zach Brooks added another shortly after the Caps killed off a double minor he took for high sticking, and Lynn topped it all off with his second of the night.
“It felt good out there,” Lynn said. “I felt like my feet were moving and everyone just played a good game. I thought we played a great game.”
The Kings struck first midway through the opening period, but the Caps came on stronger in the second. Moments after he was denied on a breakaway perfectly set up by Brooks, Matt Crasa got the Caps on the board with a powerplay goal at 5:40 of the second. The Kings pulled ahead again just over a minute after that, then went up 3-1 with a powerplay marker of their own at 14:32. Brady Lynn got put Cowichan back within a goal before the middle frame was over.
Lynn added an assist to finish with three points on the night. Luciano Wilson and Dimitri Mikrogiannakis also recorded three helpers apiece.
Both goalies faced a lot of rubber, but Cowichan netminder Zach Borgiel outplayed Powell River counterpart Derek Krall, stopping 38 of 41 shots, while Krall finished with 34 stops on 40 shots.
The Caps went into this series as the favourite, a far cry from last year’s opening series against Penticton, when Cowichan ultimately upset the top-seeded Vees.
“It’s different,” Gauthier said. “Last year we were underdogs, big time. This year we’ve come in with confidence and we know we can win it. all. We just need to work hard.”
The Caps and Kings will meet again at the Cowichan Arena at 7 p.m. on Saturday night before the series heads to Powell River for two games. According to Lynn, the game plan won’t change.
“Same thing: feet moving, him ‘em, and hopefully get the job done again,” Lynn said. “They’ll come out hard tomorrow and we’ll have to be prepared for that.”
It’s important to use home-ice advantage and go into Powell River with two victories in hand, Gauthier noted.
“Obviously that’s the goal,” he said. “When we get on their ice, we need to keep playing our game, keep it simple.”