From a pair of shutouts to a couple of thrilling late comebacks, the peewee Tier 2 Cowichan Valley Capitals’ first-place finish at the Coquitlam Peewee Gold Classic last weekend had a little bit of everything.
“The team faced some adversity,” Cowichan head coach Mike Ganter commented. “We were behind late in games and found a way to bring the game back and win it in the end.”
The tournament started off with back-to-back shutouts for the Capitals. Rhys Whiteford blanked host Coquitlam in a 4-0 win to open the tourney. A goaltending duel followed as Cowichan outshot Chilliwack 36-13, winning 1-0 as Carter Puska earned the win.
Cowichan trailed North Delta 2-0 with five minutes left to play, but scored four late goals to win 4-2. The Capitals wrapped up round-robin play with a 3-2 win over South Delta, once again outshooting their opponents substantially.
Facing Coquitlam in the semifinal, the Capitals again found themselves down 2-0 with just over five minutes remaining. Blaine Willson got Cowichan on the board, and Carter Blace scored with 16 seconds left to force overtime. It took one minute and 14 seconds for the Capitals to win it on a goal by Nolan Ganter to advance to the final.
“We came out really flat in the semifinal,” Mike Ganter said. “It was an early-morning game, and we didn’t get our legs going until the third.”
The Capitals didn’t need as much time to get going in the final against South Delta as Blace, Willson and Drew Stinka staked them to a 3-0 first period lead, while Cowichan held South Delta to a single shot over the opening 20 minutes.
“We decided to play our best hockey of the tournament in the first period,” Ganter said.
The Capitals ran into a bit of penalty trouble in the second period, but killed off a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation and cruised to a 3-1 victory.
The tournament win was a team effort, the coach insisted.
“Everybody was pitching in one way or another,” he said. “We had very balanced scoring throughout the tournament. Both goaltenders played very, very well.”