The Cowichan Valley Capitals have been playing a lot of hockey lately, and not just because they’re going through a busy stretch of the schedule.
Three of the Caps’ last four games have gone into double overtime, including the two games they won this past weekend.
The Caps defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-4 in Port Alberni on Friday evening, then got past the Langley Rivermen 4-3 in Duncan on Saturday. They played another nail-biter last Wednesday when they beat the Nanaimo Clippers 3-1, scoring the insurance goal with just 10 seconds left on the clock.
“They were exciting games, obviously,” Caps head coach Bob Beatty said. “We made it a little tough on ourselves in Alberni; we took some penalties that were maybe a little undisciplined. It’s a tough way to win, but we’ve been finding a way to win, and that’s a good thing.”
Cowichan defenceman and captain Chris Harpur scored the winning goal on Friday, potting his second goal of the season 41 seconds into the second extra session. On Saturday, it was Max Newton’s turn to play the hero as he scored the decisive marker, his team-leading 10th of the year, two minutes and 53 seconds into OT.
“We’re leaning on our veterans a great deal,” Beatty noted. “Our three 20-year-old defencemen [Harpur, Ben Verrall and Josh Owings] have been outstanding, and Ayden [MacDonald] and Max, we’ve been leaning heavily on them as well. All our veterans have been contributing, and the young guys, some of them are just breaking out, finding their groove. They keep things going in the right direction and get better every day.”
After the Bulldogs opened the scoring midway through the first period on Friday, Justin Perron scored his first B.C. Hockey League goal late in the frame. Alex Zawatsky staked the Caps to their first lead at 3:32 of the second period. Alberni drew even again at 8:02, but Zawatsky scored his second of the game at 8:43, assisted by Ty Pochipinsky, who scored a goal of his own just 10 seconds later.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to one with a minute and a half left in the second period, then scored the only goal of the third to force overtime.
Zawatsky, Pochipinsky and Harpur finished the game with two points apiece, while Lane Michasiw was sharp in the Cowichan net, stopping 48 of 52 shots. The Caps scored four goals on 13 shots against Alberni starter Brody Claeys over the first 28:53 of the contest, then managed just one on his replacement, Carson Schamerhorn, despite taking 19 shots.
“Lane got us that extra point,” Beatty said. “He made a couple of game-saving saves in overtime, and we were able to pick up the win for him.”
The Caps looked to be taking control on Saturday when Jared Domin scored on the powerplay at 11:44 of the first period and Nick Wilson added his first BCHL goal 44 seconds after that. Langley got in the game, however, with a powerplay goal of their own with three seconds left in the first period, then tied the score right at the 10-minute mark of the second.
The Caps went ahead again when Rhett Kingston scored at 13:32 of the second, but the Rivermen scored another with the man advantage just 67 seconds after that. A scoreless third period set the stage for Newton’s game-winner in OT.
After the weekend games, the Caps have 23 points in 17 games, good for second place in the Island Division. The Victoria Grizzlies also have 23 points, but have played one game fewer. The Powell River Kings sit third with 22 points in 18 games.
The Caps played host to the Nanaimo Clippers on Tuesday night, and have two home games coming up this weekend: against the Powell River Kings on Friday and the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
“It’s parents weekend, so it would be nice to keep things rolling and get some wins this week,” Beatty said.