Recent addition Cruz Cote slips a pass past a Salmon Arm Silverbacks player during Cowichan’s 7-2 win at the Cowichan Arena on Sunday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Recent addition Cruz Cote slips a pass past a Salmon Arm Silverbacks player during Cowichan’s 7-2 win at the Cowichan Arena on Sunday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Capitals refocus and win back to back at home

Cowichan beats Nanaimo and Salmon Arm

With a new focus on the remainder of the B.C. Hockey League season, the Cowichan Valley Capitals collected a pair of valuable victories at home this past weekend.

The Caps returned from a winless three-game trek to the Interior and refused to dwell on the results.

“Coming back from the last road trip, I thought we played decent,” Capitals head coach Mike Vandekamp said. “We could have had a few points and we didn’t get them.”

The team looked at the remaining schedule, which features more games at home than away and no lengthy road trips, and seized on the opportunity. Getting a week of practice in with their three trade-deadline pickups didn’t hurt, either, as newly acquired goaltender Pierce Diamond stood strong and earned both wins on the weekend.

Diamond made 20 saves in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Nanaimo Clippers, seeing most of his action in the second period as the Caps held the Clips to just three shots on the first and six in the third. Cowichan ended up outshooting Nanaimo 40-22 overall.

“We got off to a good start,” Vandekamp said. “I thought the game got a little opened up in the second, but we seemed to get back on track in the third.”

Jordan Robert opened the scoring with a powerplay marker in the second period, and popped in the deciding goal, also on the man advantage, with five and a half minutes left in the third period. He also assisted on Brady Lynn’s powerplay goal at 4:44 of the third, which tied the game at 2-2. Preston Brodziak added an empty-netter in the final minute of play.

Former Cap Ethan Scardina scored a powerplay goal for Nanaimo to make it 1-1 late in the second period, and the Clippers also scored early in the third to hold a brief one-goal lead.

The Caps got off to a similar strong start on Sunday afternoon. Cole Broadhurst opened the scoring just past the three-minute mark of the first period, and the Caps led 3-0 after 20 minutes on their way to a 7-2 win over the visiting Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

“They were coming in on the third game of a road trip and we felt we could jump on them early,” Vandekamp said. “We were able to control the game after that. It was probably one of the best games we’ve played all year.”

Kolton Cousins had the first two-goal game of his junior hockey career and Broadhurst, Lynn and Niko Esposito-Selivanov each recorded a goal and an assist as the Cowichan Valley Capitals thumped the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 7-2 at the Island Savings Centre on Sunday afternoon. Preston Brodziak and Doug Scott also scored, and Diamond made his third consecutive start, stopping 37 of 39 shots to improve to 2-1.

With 13 wins, 28 regulation losses, four overtime losses and one shootout loss, the Caps remain fifth in the Island Division, but are now just two points back of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, who have a game in hand. They have also widened their lead over the Surrey Eagles for 17th in the BCHL to nine points.

With 12 games left in the season, Vandekamp feels it’s still a little early to be watching the standings.

“Obviously we want to be in the playoffs, and our goal is to be on the Island for various reasons,” he said. “We’re working hard to climb up the ladder as far as we can.”

The Caps have a chance to pull even with the Bulldogs this Wednesday as they play host to Alberni Valley at 7 p.m.

“It’s a big game for us,” Vandekamp said. “It’s good we’ve got a bit of confidence going in.”

Cowichan will also visit the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday and host the Vernon Vipers on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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