Caps get rest ahead of busy stretch

Cowichan plays three games in four nights this week

With no games between last Wednesday and this Wednesday, the Cowichan Valley Capitals took the opportunity to get some rest on the weekend while their B.C. Hockey League opponents were busy.

The Caps are nursing a few injuries, and want to make sure they are in shape when the playoffs kick off later this month.

“We need to be healthy and ready for the playoffs at the same time,” Caps head coach Mike Vandekamp said.

A couple of players will be resting on Wednesday, while forward Tanner Sidaway hasn’t played since Jan. 25. Dan McIntyre still has a couple of games left in his suspension, and is eligible to return to action on Saturday, when the Caps play their third game in a four-day span.

The Caps are still trying to stay ahead of the Nanaimo Clippers for first place in the Island Division, but that’s not Vandekamp’s only concern.

“We’re definitely focused on not only getting points, but also on playing well,” the coach said. “We have only five games left, so we want to be really consistent down the stretch.”

Vandekamp obviously knows where the teams rank in the standings, but he’s the results right now certainly aren’t everything.

“On Feb. 28, when the playoffs start, everybody will be 0-0 again,” he said. “It’s just about being ready for the playoffs right now.”

In their latest game, last Wednesday, Zach Borgiel made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and Luciano Wilson’s first-period powerplay goal stood up as the winner as the Caps defeated the Powell River Kings 3-0 at the Cowichan Arena.

“It’s important for us to play well at home right now,” Vandekamp commented. “It’s important for us to play well in general right now. It was important to bounce back from that one loss in Powell River [in the first part of a two-game trip on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1]. We needed to be sharp, and we were.”

Wilson scored midway through the opening frame, and Brooks added a powerplay goal late in the first. John Lundy iced the game in the third. Dimitri Mikrogiannakis assisted on both first-period goals. The Caps had 33 shots on Powell River’s Thomas Wardle.

Heading into their stretch of three games in four days this week, the Caps have a five-point lead on the Clippers, and both teams have five games left, including two head-to-head meetings. The Caps host Langley this Wednesday at 7 p.m., visit Nanaimo on Friday, then host Victoria on Saturday at 6 p.m. While it’s tempting to look ahead to the crucial contest with the Clippers, Vandekamp and his team are taking things a game at a time.

“We’ll worry about Friday when we get to Friday,” he said.

It doesn’t matter to the coach whether his club ends up facing Powell River, Alberni Valley or Victoria — who are all in various stages of contention for the third and fourth spots in the Island Division — in the first round of the playoffs.

“We can’t control all that,” he said. “If anything, finishing first means you have those odd-numbered games in your rink, and that’s something you want. That’s really where it ends.”

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