The lead bounced back and forth between the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Vernon Vipers at the Cowichan Arena on Saturday night before the Caps finally scored the decisive goal in their first overtime win of the B.C. Hockey League season.
“It was a good game,” Cowichan head coach Mike Vandekamp said of the 4-3 Cowichan victory. “A real hard-fought, evenly played game. They’re a good team, and we were working hard.”
The Vipers struck first, jamming in an ugly shorthanded goal at 10:59 of the first period, but the Caps responded just 39 seconds later with a goal by Matt Crasa on the same powerplay. That stalemate lasted until 12:11 of the third period when Vernon went ahead with a powerplay goal, but Olivier Gauthier answered back for Cowichan 57 seconds after that. Crasa’s second powerplay goal of the game gave the Caps their first lead of the night with just under four minutes left to play, but the Vipers were still able to score one more to force overtime. That set the stage for defenceman Tyrell Boucher to score his second goal of the season at 1:59 of the extra session and give his team the win.
“We did a good job of bouncing back quickly and getting the momentum back in our favour a couple of times,” Vandekamp commented. “It was one of the more entertaining games of the year: a tight battle, a good game.”
Boucher and Gauthier both finished with one goal and one assist, Luc Wilson added two more assists to his team-leading total, and team captain Cruz Cote also had a pair of helpers. Ben Howard got a rare start between the pipes and earned the win by stopping 29 of 32 shots, while Reilly Herbst stopped 29 of 33 in the Vernon net.
Saturday’s game marked the return to the Cowichan Valley for Mill Bay’s Jojo Tanaka-Campbell, who graduated from Shawnigan Lake School last spring. Tanaka-Campbell had previously played 13 games as an AP for the Caps over the last two seasons, scoring one goal. In 17 games with Vernon this year, he has compiled two assists.
On Friday night, the Caps were on the other side of a 4-3 final score as they lost in regulation to the visiting Powell River Kings.
The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after the first period, with Primo Self accounting for the Cowichan goal. Dimitri Mikrogiannakis and Gauthier scored in the second to put Cowichan up 3-1, before the Kings scored one more late in the second. Powell River tied the score with less than two minutes to play, then potted the winner with 10 seconds remaining.
Zack Borgiel allowed four goals on 33 shots in the Cowichan net, while Crofton product Derek Krall stopped 30 of 33 between the pipes for Powell River.
“I thought we played really well in that game,” Vandekamp said. “We had some tough luck around the net. It wasn’t our goaltender’s best outing, and he knows that.”
The Caps will wrap up their season-high six-game home stand with three games this week as they play host to the Victoria Grizzlies on Wednesday at 7 p.m., the league-leading Coquitlam Express on Saturday at 6 p.m. and the West Kelowna Warriors Sunday at 2 p.m.
“We’ll try to build a bit on the big win against Vernon,” Vandekamp said. “We’ll see if we can get on a bit of a roll this week.”