Two out of three keep Caps ahead of Bulldogs in BCHL playoff race

With two victories and a loss last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals were able to stay just a point ahead of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the battle for the last playoff spot in the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division. "It would have been nice to get another point to put us two up, but that didn’t happen," said Caps head coach Bob Beatty.

The Caps got off to a good start with two points in an overtime win over the Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday, then slipped past the division-leading Powell River Kings 5-4 at The Stick on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, however, they couldn’t manage a goal, let alone a point, in a 3-0 loss to the Coquitlam Express.

"Sunday put a bit of a damper on the weekend," Beatty said. "But it is what it is and we got two of three."

On Friday, the Caps held a 3-0 lead early in the second period thanks to goals by Myles Powell, Taylor Allan and Colton Kehler, but undisciplined penalties allowed the Clippers to get back in with a pair of powerplay goals. Nanaimo tied the score midway

through the third, but Powell’s second of the game gave the Caps a badly needed win.

"We got distracted by the Clippers’ after-the-whistle antics," Beatty noted.

Valik Chichkin, Brayden Gelsinger and Dane Gibson all finished the game with two assists. Robin Gusse made 33 saves for the win.

The Caps again held a substantial lead against the Kings, heading into the third period up 4-1. Powell River scored three in a row to draw even, but Colton Kehler’s second of the game, with just 24 seconds left in regulation, proved decisive.

"They came back hard and we made some mistakes," Beatty said. "They had us on our heels. They had us in a defensive shell, and that’s not our game."

Kehler finished the night with two goals and an assist, and Matthew Berry-Lamontagna scored once and added a helper. Allan and Gibson had the other goals, while Gelsinger and Clint Filbrandt had two assists apiece. Gusse made 41 saves.

On Friday, the Caps generated 46 shots on Pierce Dushenko, but the Coquitlam netminder was up to the task.

"I don’t know if there wasn’t enough left in the tank or what," Beatty said. "[Coquitlam] is a good team, and their goalie was really good. If we get one or two early in the game, it’s totally different, but that wasn’t the way it played out."

Gusse made 28 saves on 30 shots in the loss. Backup Francis Marotte got a rare three minutes of action, stopping all three shots he faced.

The Caps will visit Nanaimo again this Wednesday, then host the Merritt Centennials on Saturday.

"The games keep getting bigger, and we’re running out of games," Beatty said.

Both the Capitals and Bulldogs have six games left on the schedule. The Caps have 43 points to Alberni Valley’s 42, and hold the lead in wins 19-17.