The Lake Cowichan Kraken held slight leads late in the second period and early in the third when they played host to the Westshore Wolves last Friday evening, but just couldn’t make them stand up.
The Kraken were up 3-2 with five minutes left in the middle frame and 4-3 early in the final stanza, but the Wolves scored three unanswered including an empty-netter to prevail 6-4.
“This team being young, they haven’t learned how to win close games yet,” Kraken head coach Dan Whiteford said. “That’s something that’s not inherent to hockey players. You have to get that from experience.”
Kraken rookies Bryce Burnett, Curtis Baird and Ayden Baldo all had their first goals of the season on Friday, and Julian Rutland notched his second. Josh Robins made 43 stops in the Lake Cowichan net, and Jacob Haydar stopped 28 of 32 shots for the Wolves.
Whiteford was generally pleased with his team’s performance over the weekend, especially the game against Westshore and the first period against the Campbell River Storm on Sunday.
“In parts of 80 minutes we played pretty well,” the coach said. “We played pretty well against Westshore. We moved our feet, got lots of shots and competed well.”
The Storm, who have yet to lose in regulation this season, blew into Lake Cowichan and left a 7-1 thrashing in their wake.
“The first 20 minutes were good,” Whiteford said. “A couple of mistakes in the first period cost us goals. We came out flat-footed after that.”
After scoring two in the first, Campbell River added two more in the second, and another pair in the third before Rowan Zapisocki scored his first of the season on a setup by Anthony Wilson. The Storm potted one more after that for good measure. Robins finished with 40 saves, and Nick Peters had 27 for the Storm.
“I did like that a lot of players didn’t quit,” Whiteford said of the Campbell River game. “They didn’t pack it in and played right to the last whistle. That was good to see.”
The Kraken now have six regulation losses and one overtime loss for a single point in the standings, but they aren’t far off the pace of their expansion brethren, the Port Alberni Bombers, who have one win and one OT loss for three points. The Kraken are tied in the standings with the established Nanaimo Buccaneers, who have one overtime loss and eight defeats in regulation.
The Kraken will have a good shot at their first win hosting the Buccaneers this Friday at 7:30 p.m. They visit the Oceanside Generals on Saturday, then host the Storm again on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve got Nanaimo coming to town, who we haven’t seen, and we’re in Parksville Saturday,” Whiteford noted. “That’s a team that beat us last time in their barn. I think we had cause to deserve a better fate; that’s a team we should be able to play with.
“Sunday will be a bit of a measuring stick as far as a week’s concerned with how far we’ve come against Campbell River.”