Capitals goaltender Jayden Shull attempts to corral the puck away from Bulldogs defender Mattias Dal Monte during Saturday’s game. (Elena Rardon/Black Press)

Cowichan Capitals ‘hesitant’ in exhibition openers

Shortstaffed and under new coach, Caps drop two

Brian Passmore was just happy that hockey was back.

Thrust back into the role of the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ head coach last Thursday after Geoff Grimwood stepped down, he found himself behind the bench for a pair of exhibition games in Port Alberni, adjusting to a new role and a new atmosphere at the same time.

“It was good to see some games,” Passmore said. “It was good to be in that environment again. It was strange without fans. We had to wear masks on the bench and the players all had bubbles on their face shields, but all the players seemed excited to be playing. It wasn’t the ideal way to do it.”

The Caps lost both games against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, falling 5-1 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday. Both nights, the Bulldogs led 4-0 before the Caps got on the board. Jacob Paler-Chow scored Cowichan’s lone goal on Friday, and Brendan Kerr and Jacob Brockman tallied on Saturday. Brockman finished the second contest with a goal and an assist, and recent acquisition Kahlil Fontana helped set up both goals.

Both starting goalies allowed five goals on 32 shots; on Friday it was Ontario Hockey League veteran Lucas Pfeil and on Saturday it was Jayden Shull, who was a top major midget goalie last year.

“I thought we played hesitant,” Passmore said. “We had a bit of a slow start in the first game, but we started to compete in the second half. The second game was sloppy at times. We haven’t had any systems put in place yet.”

The Caps were short on skaters both nights, icing just 15 on Friday and 17 on Saturday, but Passmore expects to have a full lineup this weekend when Cowichan hosts Alberni for another two games, again on Friday and Saturday, both starting at 7 p.m. on HockeyTV.

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