The Cowichan Valley Capitals got past Oceanside in the do-or-die crossover semifinal last Saturday, and are on to the Island midget A hockey championships, where they will take on a familiar foe in the battle for a berth at provincials.
Oceanside struck first with a shorthanded goal, but goalie Chris Akerman was nearly perfect after that, and the Capitals rolled to a 5-2 victory.
“It was a good game,” Capitals head coach Keith Mazurenko said. “It was closer until the midway point. We had a lot of the play and a lot of opportunities to score, and they started going in during the second half.”
Isaac Leik and Riley Windsor scored in the first period, Luke Handel found the back of the net in the second, and Parker Bergstrom and Griffin Webb scored in the third. Bergstrom added two assists, and Windsor, Rhys Mazurenko and Josh Nadon had one each.
The Capitals will open the best-of-three Island final series against Peninsula this Saturday at the Panorama Rec Centre at 1:30 p.m. The second game will be played at Fuller Lake Arena on March 4 at 1:30 p.m., and if necessary, the third game will go at Panorama on March 5.
Like Cowichan, Peninsula was a Tier 1 team this year, and Peninsula beat Cowichan 5-2 in the final game of the South Island round-robin tournament, so the teams know each other well.
“Peninsula is a fast, physical team,” Mazurenko said. “We’re looking forward to that style of hockey. It suits us.”
Things were pretty even between the teams during the regular season, Mazurenko recalled.
“I think they are favoured slightly, just based on the last couple of games between us,” he said. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it went three games, just based on the season series.”
The Capitals have battled injuries recently, but are mostly healthy now. The exceptions are forward Brendan Hogg and defenceman Matt Lemire. Affiliate players have helped fill the void, most notably Jamie Roberts, who has stepped in on defence and forward.
Mazurenko attributes the team’s success this season to the strong play of netminding tandem Akerman and Trent Baslee, as well as the support of the parents, his co-coaches Bob Akerman, Rob Windsor and Derek Leik, and manager Angela Strobl.