Winless road trip leaves Cowichan Capitals licking wounds

Over a disastrous three-game road trip last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals were outscored 19 goals to six.

Over a disastrous three-game road trip last weekend, the Cowichan Valley Capitals were outscored 19 goals to six, including a loss at the hands of the team with the B.C. Hockey League’s worst record, and a shutout by the team with the best record.

“We’re licking our wounds,” Caps head coach Bob Beatty said after the team returned home. “I’m not as ecstatic as I’d like to be about the road trip.”

The Caps kicked off the trip last Friday against the Coquitlam Express. The Express sit last in the BCHL standings, and the Caps were just coming off a 5-0 win over them five days earlier, so a win may have felt preordained. Not so, as Cowichan lost 6-3.

“It’s always a bit of a factor that you expect to win, and don’t expect to have to earn it,” Beatty said. “I’m not sure if that was the case, or if we were up against an improved lineup that outplayed us. I’ve said before that they have good players, and without injuries, they might be right in the thick of things.”

The Caps fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but got back in the game in the second when new addition Haydn Hopkins scored his first as a Capital shorthanded at 2:41 and Ayden MacDonald evened things up at 11:32. Coquitlam pulled ahead again at 15:17, but Max Newton potted his 21st of the year 38 seconds later. The third period was all Coquitlam as the Express scored three unanswered goals.

MacDonald and Newton each finished with a goal and an assist. Capitals goalie Adam Marcoux made 21 saves in the loss.

“They know how to play in that rink, and we only go there once a year,” Beatty said. “The dimensions are a little different. That’s no excuse to give up six goals and be beat 6-3, but that’s what we did.”

Crossing the border on Saturday, the Caps played a good first period against the Wenatchee Wild, and trailed the league-leading team just 1-0 after 20 minutes. The Wild led 4-0 after the second period, and rolled from there.

Devin Cooley had a relatively quiet night in the Wenatchee net, making just 11 saves for the shutout. Lane Michasiw played the first two periods and 2:42 of the second in net before he was pulled after surrendering five goals on 30 shots. Marcoux came in for the balance and stopped six of the seven pucks he faced.

“We missed some opportunities [to score], and things unravelled from there,” Beatty related. “They’re a good hockey team. It’s no accident they’ve got the best record in the league.”

The Caps had another strong start against the West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday afternoon, but they couldn’t make it stand up as they went down 7-3.

Rhett Kingston got the Caps on the board first at 11:39 of the first period, but the Warriors responded and led 2-1 after 20 minutes. Newton drew the Caps even early in the second, but West Kelowna regained the lead late in the period. The Warriors went up 4-2 at 1:16 of the third, then added their second shorthanded goal of the night, and were ahead 7-2 before MacDonald replied.

MacDonald and Newton again had two points apiece, Michasiw made 45 saves.

“We were in it, but you don’t give up two shorthanded goals on the road and win a game very often,” Beatty said. “I don’t know if the guys ran out of gas in the third, but that’s no excuse. They were just taking it to us.”

The Caps were without captain Chris Harpur in West Kelowna after he was handed a four-game suspension for an alleged hit to the head in Wenatchee. Beatty wouldn’t comment on the call.

With defencemen Harpur and Ben Verrall unavailable for the time being, the Caps will probably call on Shawnigan Lake School prep blueliner Boo Grist for their upcoming home-and-home series against the Victoria Grizzlies. The teams play at the Q Centre on Thursday and back at the Island Savings Centre on Friday at 7 p.m.

The Caps (44 points) sit in the middle of the Island Division, behind Victoria (61 points) and Powell River (57), and ahead of Nanaimo (36) and Alberni (35).

“Points are starting to be pretty significant with Nanaimo and Alberni right behind us,” Beatty said. “We have to regroup and get the details sorted out. We’re a good team, but we have to prove it; translate what we have on paper onto the ice and execute.”