The Lake Cowichan Kraken didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for their home game against the Kerry Park Islanders last Friday, but according to head coach Dan Whiteford, that didn’t have anything to do with the final result.
The Kraken were originally scheduled to play the Victoria Cougars at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, but uncertainty about the Malahat forced the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League to change some of its plans late last week. That included swapping the Kraken’s planned opponent on Friday for their Cowichan Valley rivals from Mill Bay.
The Kraken ended up on the wrong side of a 9-4 final score in their first regular-season meeting with the Isles, but the short notice wasn’t the reason.
“We don’t necessarily plan our game around our opponent,” Whiteford said. “In general, our game plan is focused on what will make us successful in the game. Stuff like the Malahat [closure] happens. We can change our plan on the fly. Hopefully most times we can adjust better than we did. It’s definitely no excuse. The result wasn’t because it was changed at the last minute. We didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Kraken trailed 4-0 early in the second period before they even got on the scoreboard, and never managed to get any closer. Anthony Wilson and Rowan Zapisocki each had a goal and an assist, Kellan Brienan and Adrien Hebert also scored, and Mitchell Billings and Aiden Eddy had two helpers apiece. Josh Robins and Jake Hebert split the goaltending duties, combining for 45 saves as their team was outshot 54-33. Kerry Park’s top line of Brady Estabrook, Colten Thompson and Logan Walker combined for 17 points.
In their regularly scheduled road game against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings the following night, the Kraken got off to a bad start, taking a penalty for a warmup violation before the game even started. The Kings capitalized on that penalty. Although the Kraken got a powerplay goal of their own a few minutes later, they seemed to be fighting an uphill battle throughout the game. Lake Cowichan nearly killed off an instigator penalty to captain Donovan Griffin before the Kings scored to go up 2-1. The Kraken again tied the score on a goal by Jaxon Krupa in the second, but Comox found the net three times in the third.
“We made a couple of mental mistakes in the third, a couple of things we try to work on in practice, and they ended up in the back of the net,” Whiteford said.
Hebert faced 42 shots in the Lake Cowichan net, while Andrew Loewen had to make only 15 saves at the other end.
The Kraken will visit the Nanaimo Buccaneers this Thursday, then play host to the Port Alberni Bombers on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Lake Cowichan is the only team with a loss to the Bucs this year after falling 4-3 on Nov. 14, but Whiteford said his team won’t be thinking about that in the next meeting.
“Our focus isn’t on beating them just because they beat us,” the coach said. “We just want to get the two points and climb in the standings. Games that seem to be revenge games never seem to go well.”
Similarly, the Kraken aren’t looking any differently at Friday’s game against their fellow VIJHL expansion team. The Bombers have won two of the teams’ three previous meetings, all at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, but Whiteford doesn’t feel that the two first-year clubs have developed any special animosity.
“There doesn’t seem to be [a rivalry] there,” he said. “They’re a high-powered team. Our defence will have a chore there. They’re a good club, another team we need to beat to stay ahead of in the standings.”