Back-to-back losses weren’t what the Cowichan Valley Capitals were hoping to take away from the Bauer B.C. Hockey League Showcase in Chilliwack last weekend, where they lost 2-1 to the West Kelowna Warriors in regulation last Saturday and 4-3 to the Vernon Vipers in overtime on Sunday.
“They weren’t the exact results we would have liked,” head coach Bob Beatty said. “We had a tight game against West Kelowna and double overtime, of course, against Vernon. They’re two real solid teams, and we have to be at our best when we’re playing against clubs in the top echelon of the league.”
Ayden MacDonald opened the scoring for Cowichan on Saturday with a powerplay goal midway through the first period, but the Warriors responded with powerplay markers of their own in the second and third periods. Goalie Storm Phaneuf had an outstanding game, stopping 38 pucks as the Caps were outshot 40-26.
“I thought we had a good start against West Kelowna,” Beatty said. “I didn’t think we were as good as we could have been in the second and third periods. We took some penalties we didn’t need to take. West Kelowna has a real strong powerplay, and we kind of fed them a little bit.”
The Caps went ahead 2-0 in the first period on Sunday thanks to a shorthanded goal by Patrick Geary and a powerplay marker by Jared Domin. Darien Craighead scored his first of the season five minutes into the second to stake the Caps to a three-goal lead, but Vernon came back with one goal in the second and two more in the third to force extra time, eventually winning in the second overtime period. Goalie Lane Michasiw made 35 saves as the Caps were outshot 39-35.
“I thought we played a pretty strong game,” Beatty said. “We did take a couple of penalties we didn’t need to. I know we will take some penalties if we’re being aggressive and playing hard, but we have to find the line where it’s going to cost us. Blowing a 3-0 lead hurts, but the game itself I thought was good.”
Craighead, the Caps’ second-leading goal-scorer last season, played his first game with the team this season after trying out for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the U.S. Hockey League, and made an immediate impact.
“He’s a good player, so we’ll try to find a place for him to fit in,” Beatty said. “He’s got a good touch around the net, obviously, he was over a point per game last year. He makes things happen offensively. We can always use a goal-scorer.
The Caps will play three games in three nights this weekend, visiting the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday, the Coquitlam Express on Saturday and the Langley Rivermen on Sunday.
“We’ve got to focus on being prepared,” Beatty said. “Road trips haven’t been good to us the last couple of years, so we’ve got to change that.”
Defenceman Mitch Meek and forward Adam Osczevski will sit out Friday’s game to finish suspensions from earlier in the season. Both players were permitted to play in the Showcase despite the suspensions.