The peewee A Cowichan Valley Capitals are off to the Tier 2 provincial championships, after sweeping the best-of-three Island final against Oceanside.
The Capitals opened the series with an 11-2 win at Fuller Lake Arena last Saturday and closed it out with a 5-3 victory at Howie Meeker Arena the next day.
“We weren’t expecting that one to go that way, but we’ll take it,” head coach Rick Brant said of the 11-2 score.
“In the regular season, we had two close games with them; we won one and tied the other. They finished ahead of us in the regular-season standings, so it was to our advantage that we had home ice for the first game.”
Dawson Elzinga, Ben Brant and Cullen Plester each scored two goals, and Matty Schure, James Joyce, Braden Blace, Nolan Wilkinson and Parker Klippenstein had singles.
Oceanside was ready the next day, as the Cowichan coaches expected.
“Game two was a different story,” Brant said. “We went in just preparing the kids, telling them this would be the most difficult game of the season. We were in their rink, full of their family and friends, and we were sure they didn’t go home happy after the first game.”
Oceanside came out flying, and the teams were in a 2-2 deadlock going into the third period.
That’s when the Capitals took control.
“They got into penalty trouble and our power play took over,” Brant said. “It was phenomenal hockey; everything you would expect from an Island championship.”
Elzinga led the team with a hat trick in game two, and Klippenstein and Anthony Wilson each scored once.
Needless to say, the Capitals were relieved to end the series when they did.
“We certainly didn’t want to go to a third game,” Brant stated.
The team will head to the provincial championships in Fort St. John on March 13-17.
“Our goal was winning the Island championship,” Brant said. “It hasn’t been an easy road. The players were extremely focused. They put in a ton of work on and off the ice. Now we have to recalibrate our goals and focus on provincials.”
Brant acknowledged the tremendous support the team has had this season from the parents, and from sponsor Quality Box.
The Capitals haven’t seen all the teams they will face in Fort St. John, but earlier this season they won a Tier 2 tournament in Langley that featured some of the top squads from the Lower Mainland, giving them a good idea about where they stand.
“We should be focused on getting ourselves to the championship game,” Brant said. “The way this team is playing right now, I don’t think that’s unrealistic.”