Pictured here in a home game earlier this month, Capitals forward Luke Haymes had two assists in his team’s 5-3 loss to the Coquitlam Express last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Pictured here in a home game earlier this month, Capitals forward Luke Haymes had two assists in his team’s 5-3 loss to the Coquitlam Express last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Capitals winless on 3-game Mainland road trip

Powerplay goals make the difference in 2 of the losses

The Cowichan Valley Capitals’ best chance to pick up a win on their three-game B.C. Hockey League road trip to the Lower Mainland last week came on Sunday against the Surrey Eagles.

Tied 1-1 with the Eagles after the first period, the Caps pushed hard in the second and dominated the period, although they were unable to create any offence. At 12:48 of the second, Cowichan forward Sam Schofield was whistled down for holding and then, just 14 seconds after he went into the box, Griffin Wilson was penalized for cross-checking — a disputable call that Capitals head coach Brian Passmore called “embarrassing” — and the Eagles converted just moments after the original penalty expired. That powerplay goal stood up as the game-winner as the Caps lost 2-1.

“We pushed the rest of the game, but we just fell short,” Passmore said. “That seems to be the way things are going. It’s not for lack of effort. The kids are frustrated. It’s a fragile group right now that really wants to win.”

Cowichan’s lone goal against Surrey was a powerplay marker from Massimo Sarantos Lombardi with two seconds left in the first period. Former Capital Primo Self opened the scoring for the Eagles. Evan May made 27 saves as the Caps were outshot 29-27.

A powerplay goal was also the difference the night before in a 5-3 loss to the Coquitlam Express. After the Caps scored with two powerplay goals to tie the game at 3-3 going into the third period, the Express scored with 7:21 left in regulation with Cowichan defenceman Owen Simpson in the box for holding, then added an empty-netter.

David Jacobs scored twice against Coquitlam, Griffin Wilson had a goal and an assist, Luke Haymes had two helpers. McCoy Bidewell stopped 34 of the 38 shots he faced, while the Caps fired 35 pucks at Coquitlam netminder Connor Mackenzie.

Bidewell was outstanding in his debut for the Caps two nights earlier, making 41 saves in a 4-1 loss to the Coastal Conference-leading Langley Rivermen on Thursday night.

After a scoreless first period, the Rivermen got things going with a goal inside the first minute of the second. David Jacobs replied for the Caps just over three minutes later, then Riley Wallack, who spent the 2020-21 pod season with the Caps on loan from the Rivermen, scored twice in a 49-second span to put Langley in front. The Rivermen added one more in the third.

“Their team is big, strong and quick,” Passmore said. “We didn’t compete well. We kept the game close, but they were too strong for us that night.”

With three wins and 15 losses, the Caps are languishing at the bottom of the Coastal Conference standings, but Passmore believes his team can achieve more.

“We’re better than our record right now,” he said. “Everyone knows it. We’ve got to get better.”

The Caps have signed Bidewell, who came in last weekend as an AP from the Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, and now have three goalies on their roster, although Ben Montgomery is out with an injury. Other players will be coming back from injuries as the Caps play host to the Langley Rivermen this Friday at 7 p.m. It will be their lone game of the weekend as Saturday’s home date with the Cranbrook Bucks has been postponed indefinitely due to travel issues caused by last week’s flooding.

Passmore would prefer to play two games, but instead he hopes to make the most of the one that is happening.

“What we want is to get the win Friday and have a good feeling after that and get some momentum going,” he said.