On his first weekend as the captain of the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Adam Osczevski showed that he’s the right man for the job.
In the Caps’ first game of the weekend, a 3-2 season-opening victory over the visiting Victoria Grizzlies, Osczevski set up Kade Kehoe’s game-winning goal — a shorthanded marker early in the third period — then later proceeded to deliver a beating to Victoria’s Corey Iapalucci after he ran Osczevski’s linemate Ryan Burton into the boards from behind.
The captain showed a different side the next night when he scored four times to lead the Caps to a 6-3 home win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
“We talked about why he was captain last week,” Beatty said. “And he went out and proved us right.”
The weekend earned B.C. Hockey League Player of the Week honours for Osczevski, who has an early lead in the league points race as well. Kehoe picked up an honourable mention for his four-point weekend.
Accolades aside, the biggest thing for the Capitals was starting the season with a pair of victories.
“Obviously, getting a couple of wins on the opening weekend, we’re happy with the result for sure,” Beatty said. “They can’t take that away from us.”
On Friday night, the teams traded goals in the first period as newcomer Matt Hudie paced the Caps to a lead at the 13:51 mark before Cole Pickup evened things up for the Grizzlies with a powerplay marker at 17:48.
Pickup put his team ahead a minute and nine seconds into the second period, but Ayden MacDonald’s first as a Cap — against his old team — tied the score again. Kehoe and Osczevski broke in together during a penalty kill early in the third period, and Kehoe finished off the play with what held up as the game-winner.
Goalie Storm Phaneuf, another veteran playing his first season with the Caps, made 32 saves as Victoria outshot Cowichan 34-26.
“It’s great to win the home opener,” Beatty said. “I thought maybe we were a little tight, maybe it was opening-night nerves.”
The defence corps and penalty killers held the fort down the stretch as the Grizzlies pushed hard to tie the score.
“Our defence was solid,” Beatty said. “They played well. We were able to hold Victoria off at the end. They had a bit of momentum toward the end when we were killing penalties in the third.”
On Saturday, Osczevski exploded early, completing a hat trick in the third period alone, and Kehoe assisted on all three goals as the Caps went up 3-1.
Osczevski added another in the second and Hudie potted his second of the year as Cowichan made it 5-1.
Hudie’s fellow U.S. import Jared Domin rounded out the Caps’ scoring in the third and Alberni replied with a pair.
Lane Michasiw got his first start of the campaign in goal, stopping 30 of 33 shots.
Osczevski may have set the pace on opening weekend, but Beatty was impressed with the rest of the team, too.
“I thought we had a pretty good effort from everybody,” the coach said. “Kade and Ryan [Burton] certainly had a good weekend as well. And there were guys that played very well that maybe didn’t get on the scoresheet. We had a good effort from everybody both nights.”
The goaltending tandem of Phaneuf and Michasiw looked strong and ready to backstop the team to a good season.
“Storm certainly was a factor in the win Friday night,” Beatty agreed. “And Lane had a good outing Saturday night.”
With all the positives, Beatty was still cautious that this was just the start of a long campaign.
“It was a good weekend for us, but there are 56 more [games] to go,” he said. “We’re not getting too carried away.”
This coming Friday, the Caps will host the Powell River Kings at 7:30 p.m. in their last game before heading to Chilliwack for two contests at the annual BCHL Showcase.
“They’re a strong team,” Beatty said of the Kings. “They split with Nanaimo on the weekend in two close games. We have to cue it up for Powell River for sure. It should be a good game for us. We’ll make sure we get out there and execute.”