A season-best three-game winning streak has vaulted the Cowichan Valley Capitals past the Nanaimo Clippers in the B.C. Hockey League Port Alberni Pod standings.
The Caps moved into third place in the pod thanks to a 2-1 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday and back-to-back 3-2 wins over the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday and Tuesday. The team has points in each of its last five games.
“We’re playing pretty good,” Caps head coach Brian Passmore said. “We’re finding a way to get the wins. We’re playing better 5-on-5, defensively; we’re not giving up too much. We’re getting good efforts from players that play the right way.”
Leading the way lately has been the line of Sam Schofield, Riley Wallack and Tyler Leibl.
“They’ve stepped up,” Passmore said. “As a coach, I can trust them on the ice in any situation. They’re coming up with big goals for us.”
Wallack and Schofield took turns setting up each other’s game-winning goals on Saturday and Sunday. Wallack’s first of the season at 9:53 of the third period stood up as the deciding marker against the Bulldogs, and Schofield’s winner against the Grizzlies came with 13 seconds left to play in the second period.
Schofield and Brett Fudger each had two helpers in the win over Alberni on Saturday as they also combined to feed Tyler Leibl for his second of the year midway through the first period. The Bulldogs tied the score soon after, but Wallack’s third-period goal made the difference. Lucas Pfeil stopped 26 of 27 shots in the Cowichan net, while former Kerry Park Islanders goalie Bailey Monteith made 32 saves for Alberni.
On Sunday, the Grizzlies opened the scoring at 6:19 of the first, but the Caps drew even on defenceman Tanner Komzak’s third of the year just a minute and 50 seconds later, and Jackson Alexeev gave Cowichan the lead with 35 seconds remaining in the first. The Grizzlies made it 2-2 with a powerplay marker at 13:51 of the second but Schofield put the Caps back in front for good. Pfeil made 32 saves to Carter Woodside’s 23 for the Grizzlies.
Tuesday’s game saw the Grizzlies pepper Cowichan netminder Jayden Shull with 45 shots, but he stood tall with 43 saves to earn his first BCHL victory. Victoria drew first blood with a powerplay goal at 2:16 of the second, but Leibl tied the score just over five minutes later. Komzak struck on the powerplay in the third and Sean Ramsay made it 3-1 with his first of the season. The Grizzlies got within one with a powerplay goal of their own with 25 seconds left in regulation. Woodside was back in net for Victoria and stopped 25 of 28 shots.
The team’s success is coming as the season is winding down, but that doesn’t bother Passmore.
“We took our last seven games as a best of seven series, and we’re up 3-1 in that series now,” he said. “We’ve got to get that fourth win, and it doesn’t matter who it comes against.”
The Caps were back in action on Wednesday for their last game against the Bulldogs this year. They will wrap up the shortened pod-based season with two games against the Clippers on Friday and Saturday.