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New-look Caps subdue Alberni in home-opener
The biggest thing Cowichan Valley Capitals’ coach Bob Beatty wants is for the team to establish a presence at Cowichan Arena.
Success at home obviously keeps the fans happy and coming back. Besides that, it’s integral to having a productive season in the B.C. Hockey League.
The Caps kicked it off in fine style Saturday night at Cowichan Arena, beating the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-1.
“We want to make it a tough place to play,’’ said Beatty. “We want to be a team that’s notably hard to play against.’’
The new edition of the Caps won over the fans immediately with a gritty display for the two points.
“It was a good crowd, a good way to start the season,’’ conceded Beatty.
The sense of anticipation is always high for the first game of the season at home among both newcomers and veterans.
“There was some nerves, for sure,’’ said Beatty. “To be honest, I thought it was more comfortable than at the Showcase.’’
The Caps played their first two regular-season games the previous weekend in that tournament, winning against Prince George and losing to Trail. But at least it got the players back into their game mode before opening at home.
The Caps took the early lead on a goal by Myles Powell, but Alberni’s Hunter Stewart got that one back just 19 seconds later.
The way the Caps responded to that Alberni tally impressed Beatty.
“Nobody let up,’’ he said. “It was good to see we went right after it again.’’
Their efforts were rewarded with a power-play tally by Steen Cooper 4 1/2 minutes later and Sam Curleigh made it 3-1 after the first period with a goal in the last two minutes.
The Caps put two more goals on the board in the second period — Curleigh’s second and one from Mason Malkowich.
“They skated well, took away time and space,’’ said Beatty of his team’s effort. “I thought we were moving the puck better. There’s still room for improvement.’’
Robin Gusse wasn’t overly busy in the Caps’ net, facing just 21 shots, but showed the stability in net the Caps definitely need when things go awry.
“He doesn’t panic,’’ said Beatty. “It was a good shot that beat him and he made some timely saves when the game was close.’’
The Caps didn’t quite light it up at the other end, either, with just 23 shots directed at Blake Pearson, but they made five of them count.
Beatty likes the way his team is coming together and the 2-1 start helps set things in motion.
“I do think the chemistry is good,’’ said Beatty. “I think we’ve got some real good kids. At this stage, there’s no lack of focus.’’
The Caps head back to Alberni for a rematch with the Bulldogs Wednesday.
Beatty expects the Bulldogs will provide a greater challenge back on their home ice.
“They’re going to be pretty hungry,’’ he said. “They’re 0-4.’’
Beatty will make sure his players are well aware of that fact and come prepared to work hard.
The Caps have a doubleheader at home this weekend.
They take on the Victoria Grizzlies Saturday at 7 p.m. and the Surrey Eagles Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cowichan Arena. After that, they head to the Interior for three games.