The Cowichan Valley Capitals were beaten twice by four-goal margins on the weekend, but head coach Mike Vandekamp didn’t feel that the final scores portrayed his team fairly.
“I didn’t think we played as poorly as the results,” Vandekamp said following his team’s back-to-back defeats on home ice, a 4-0 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday and a 7-3 loss to the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday.
Victoria netminder Joe Howe stopped all 45 Cowichan shots on Friday, the second time so far in the B.C. Hockey League season that the Caps have been shut out.
“Every once in a while in a season you see something like that where you have 45 shots and don’t score,” Vandekamp said. “It’s not very often that you generate that kind of shot total and get shut out. Obviously, their goaltender was a factor in the game.”
Ben Howard stopped 27 of 30 shots in the Cowichan crease with the fourth goal going into an empty net. Howard’s saves included an unsuccessful penalty shot by Victoria forward Stephen Konroyd. Duncan’s Kahlil Fontana was among the Grizzlies’ goal-scorers, collecting his first BCHL marker in his seventh game as an AP. Fontana was called up from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s Westshore Wolves, where he leads the team with 18 points in 13 games.
Both the Caps and the Grizzlies went 0-for-3 on the powerplay on Friday night.
“We didn’t get outplayed that much,” Vandekamp said. “Sometimes the puck goes in your net and it doesn’t go in the other one.”
The Wild converted three of eight powerplay opportunities on Saturday night, which played a significant role in the final result.
“We had trouble staying out of the penalty box,” Vandekamp acknowledged.
The Caps played catch-up for the first half of the game, tying the score at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 before the Wild scored the last four goals of the night. Cruz Cote, Johnny Howie and Zach Brooks scored the Cowichan goals, with Matthew Crasa posting a pair of assists. Zach Borgiel started in net and allowed six goals on 25 shots over two periods before Howard relieved him in the third and stopped seven of eight shots.
After a hot start to the season, the Caps have cooled off in October, losing six of eight games, including one each in overtime and a shootout. The team remains first in the Island Division, one point up on the Nanaimo Clippers, although the Clippers have two games in hand.
“I think we’re victims of our own success,” Vandekamp said. “Sometimes you’ve got to realize it’s not going to come easy. You’ve got to work hard to keep things going.”
In positive news, the Caps got forwards Dan McIntyre and Cole Broadhurst back from injuries last weekend, and are, by and large, healthy at this point. McIntyre has been effective when healthy, recording seven points prior to his latest stint on the injured reserve.
“Mac missed a lot of games,” the coach pointed out. “I think he played one game in a month. It’s going to take some time for him to get back to game shape and catch up. It will take him a couple of games to get back at it.”
The Caps will visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this Friday before hosting the Prince George Spruce Kings on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Alberni is one of the hottest teams in the league right now,” Vandekamp noted. “They’ve been really good the last couple of weeks. They’ll be a tough challenge, for sure.”
The Spruce Kings, who include former Cowichan forwards Preston Brodziak and Kolton Cousins, are the defending BCHL champions, but with high turnover rates in junior hockey, that doesn’t mean much, and the team is currently fourth in the Mainland Division.