A busy part of their B.C. Hockey League schedule caught up to the Cowichan Valley Capitals as they split their two home games on the weekend, but the team remains tied for top spot in the Island Division.
The Caps defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-2 on Friday night, then lost 6-0 to the visiting Penticton Vees on Saturday.
The Bulldogs did lead the game 2-1 after the first period, but Cowichan head coach Mike Vandekamp never felt like his team was really behind, and pointed out that both Alberni goals came against the flow of play.
“I guess it was a comeback on the scoresheet, but we had a really good start,” he said. “The guys played well. We had a lot of jump in our step.”
Capitals forward Josh Kagan opened the scoring at 9:05 of the first period, but the Bulldogs replied 39 seconds later, then again two minutes after that. Olivier Gauthier evened things up midway through the hard-fought second period, and Cole Broadhurst put the Caps back in front at 9:38 of the third. The Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback down the stretch, but the Caps fended them off.
“I thought they took it to us in the latter stages,” Vandekamp admitted.
Forward Zach Brooks had two assists against Alberni, and Tyrell Boucher added one to remain first in scoring among BCHL blueliners.
Zach Borgiel started the game in net and earned the win with 23 saves on 25 shots. Ben Howard replaced Borgiel for three minutes early in the second period while the starter dealt with an equipment issue, and didn’t face a single shot. The Caps directed 30 shots at Alberni’s Luke Pearson.
The Penticton Vees rolled into Cowichan well-rested, undefeated and possibly looking for revenge after the Caps ousted them from the BCHL playoffs last spring. The visitors gradually wore the hosts down, scoring once in the first, twice in the second and three times in the third for a 6-0 win.
It was the Caps’ third game in four days and the Vees’ first in seven days, and Vandekamp felt that it showed.
“I think we had energy still at the start of the game,” he said. “They were a team that hadn’t played for a week. They were rested and obviously motivated. I think we ran out of gas.
“Credit to them for just wearing us down. It was a tight game after the first. The best 10 minutes for us was the first 10 minutes.”
Borgiel stopped 35 of 41 shots, while Penticton’s Yaniv Perets made 18 stops for the shutout. The Vees were 0-for-7 on the powerplay, while the Caps were 0-for-3.
Despite the loss, the Caps remain tied for first in the Island Division with the Powell River Kings, both teams with five wins and two losses. The Caps also lead the entire league with 98 penalty minutes.
The Caps remain shorthanded in the centre position. They got Tanner Sidaway back on Friday after a suspension he incurred in the season opener, but lost him again to an injury on Saturday. Dan McIntyre missed his third and fourth straight games with an injury, but should be back later this week. Will Arquiett still has two games left to serve in his five-game suspension.
Cowichan will head out on a three-game road trip this weekend, visiting the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday, the Vernon Vipers on Saturday, and the Surrey Eagles on Sunday afternoon. The Caps haven’t played the Silverbacks or Vipers yet this year, but defeated the Eagles 5-2 at the Cowichan Arena on Sept. 18.
“We’ll be playing against three good teams,” Vandekamp said. “There are no easy games at all in our league, and you’ve got to travel and deal with all that stuff. We’ve got to get out there and get some points.”