Capitals defenceman Andrew McCann fires the puck out of the Cowichan end during last Saturday’s 7-4 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Caps fall flat as season ticks away

For a team on the brink of missing the B.C. Hockey League playoffs, the Cowichan Valley Capitals didn't show much desperation last weekend, losing 8-5 to the Nanaimo Clippers and 7-4 to the Victoria Grizzlies in a pair of largely uninspired efforts.

For a team on the brink of missing the B.C. Hockey League playoffs, the Cowichan Valley Capitals didn’t show much desperation last weekend, losing 8-5 to the Nanaimo Clippers and 7-4 to the Victoria Grizzlies in a pair of largely uninspired efforts.

“There wasn’t that much to be positive about,” Caps head coach Brian Passmore lamented. “I wasn’t pleased with the performance in both games. I thought we played half a game both nights.”

The Caps got off to a reasonable start in Nanaimo on Friday, and that lasted about seven minutes before, in Passmore’s words, “the wheels fell off.”

The Caps trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes and 7-2 after 40. They mounted a bit of a comeback in the third with three goals, including two on the powerplay, before the Clippers iced it with a powerplay goal of their own

“The guys woke up in the third and showed character and pride,” Passmore acknowledged. “But it was more about making the scoreboard more respectable.”

David Laroche and Troy MacTavish finished with two goals apiece, and Marshall Skapski had the other. Tate Coughlin, Andrew McCann and Brendan Cherwalk each had two assists. J.J. Pichette started in the Cowichan net and allowed six goals on 27 shots over 33:31. Michael Corson replaced him for the balance and allowed two goals on 13 shots as the Caps were outshot 42-22.

The way his team performed over the last 20 minutes on Friday gave Passmore high hopes for Saturday night, but the players weren’t on the same page.

“We played such a good third in Nanaimo, I thought they would come out flying,” he said. “Instead, we had our worst period in a long time.”

The Caps won the game’s opening faceoff back to a defenceman, and when Victoria’s wingers jumped through, the Cowichan defender put the puck right on a Victoria player’s shin pads, and the Grizzlies turned that into a goal. Within eight seconds of the puck drop, the Caps were down 1-0.

“I was still looking at my game card to see what line I was going to next, and I look up and they’ve scored,” Passmore said.

The Grizzlies outshot the Caps 23-8 in the first period and led 5-0 going into intermission.

“It was a complete no-show in the first period,” Passmore said. “It’s nothing I can explain as to why or what. You have to ask the players. They were just not ready to play.”

The Caps bounced back in the second with three straight before the Grizzlies scored one more to finish the period up 6-3. Nick Wilson appeared to get the Caps back within two when he beat Victoria netminder Kurtis Chapman with a minute and a half left to play, but the officials called it back, ruling that the net was off. Passmore argued that the net came off as the puck was going in, but refs said the net was off beforehand. Wilson’s own frustration with the situation earned him an ejection from the match.

The players started to get emotional late in the second, but it wasn’t enough.

“Why weren’t you like that before the game started?” Passmore recalled wondering.

The players started to get emotional late in the second, but it wasn’t enough.

“Why weren’t you like that before the game started?” Passmore recalled wondering.

The Grizzlies added a shorthanded empty-netter with 4:38 left in the third, and the Caps got back within three with a shorthanded goal by Brendan Cherwalk two minutes later.

Coughlin and Jonathan Stein each had a goal and an assist, and Ethan Scardina also scored for the Caps. Corson started in net and lasted just six minutes and 22 seconds, allowing three goals on eight shots. Pichette played the rest of the game and stopped 30 of 33 shots.

After the game, Passmore let his players know it’s their responsibility to turn things around.

“I told the players they’ve got to talk to one another,” he said. “They need to hold each other accountable. When there’s 10 guys I want to sit, that’s not a good thing. There can’t be so many passengers.”

On the injury front, Boo Grist and Yuri Davis-Martel have joined fellow defenceman Nii Noi Tetteh on the sidelines for the rest of the season, while forward Azzaro Tinling is day-to-day. Passmore expects to have a few APs in the lineup down the stretch.

The Caps have nine games left in the season, including seven at home. They trail the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for 13 points in the race for the last Island Division playoff berth, and are seven points back of the Coquitlam Express for a wildcard spot.

Cowichan has four games over the next five days. They host Victoria again on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and West Kelowna on Friday, also at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the Caps visit the Cougars, and on Sunday, they host the Merritt Centennials at 2 p.m.

“We have four games. It’s an eight-point week and we need to get them all.”

Just Posted

Most Read