It’s been a tough year for the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Sitting at the bottom of the Coastal Division standings with nine wins in 40 games, with shakeups in the front office, behind the bench, and on the ice, there’s been a lot of adversity for the junior A hockey club this year. But with every low there comes a high and the Caps and their fans got just that at home on Saturday, Feb. 4. with a 6-5 victory over the Powell River Kings.
“The game kind of opened up a little bit more than we would’ve wanted it to, but at least we were able to find a way to score some goals,” said head coach Mike Vandekamp. “It was an exciting game.”
Backed by the leadership of older players off the scoresheet first year players carried the Caps, with four of their six goals scored by rookies. A rookie also got the win in goal.
Powell River got on the board quickly, scoring just over a minute into the contest but Cowichan rookie Andrew Haxton answered back at the 3:24 mark to tie it up.
Rookie Kai Dunits scored at 5:43 to give the Caps the lead, which they held for a good seven minutes or so. Then the Kings tied it up at two apiece.
Cowichan wasn’t done scoring in the first period however. Luke Lavery netted his 14th of the season on the man-advantage at 15:05 and Cowichan carried the one goal lead into the half.
Rookie Ethan Dekay extended Cowichan’s lead in the second period with his first goal of the season to make the score 4-2. The Kings answered back midway through the second and that was it for scoring in the middle stanza despite each netminder facing at least 10 shots on goal.
With five goals scored in the first and two more in the second, fans anticipated a high-scoring third and they weren’t disappointed.
Powell River notched another into an empty net in the first two minutes of the third period to tie the game but Cole Melady countered at 12:17 to restore the lead. Powell River didn’t roll over, though, and potted another game-tying goal shortly thereafter.
Cowichan pushed hard and with just under four minutes to play, rookie Oliver Salo got one past the Power River goalie to lift Cowichan to a 6-5 victory.
Lukas Renaud, also a rookie, got the win in net, stopping 29 of 33 shots against.
Recording either a goal or an assist, 15 different Caps got on the scoresheet in the total team effort.
“It was a big win,” said team manager John Dewer. “Things are starting to come around.”
The Caps had played to a 5-2 home loss against the Nanaimo Clippers the night before but Vandekamp said he was pleased with how the team played in both games.
“In the first game against Nanaimo, they just had a little bit more finish than we did on a couple of their chances. I also thought that their goaltender played well,” he said.
Up next for Cowichan is a home game at The Stick against the Langley Rivermen. Cowichan has won all three previous meetings, outscoring Langley 10-5. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
“Every game from here on until the end will get even bigger for our team as we try to fight our way into a playoff spot,” Vandekamp said. “In the meantime, we are excited about the future of our team, and how things will look heading into next season.”