Capitals forward Colten Thompson watches the puck beat Nanaimo Clippers goalie Austin Spiridakis after scoring on a breakaway last Wednesday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Capitals forward Colten Thompson watches the puck beat Nanaimo Clippers goalie Austin Spiridakis after scoring on a breakaway last Wednesday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan Capitals can’t catch a break in Powell River

‘We have little breakdowns and it’s in our net’

Cowichan Valley Capitals head coach Brian Passmore had to cancel his team’s practice on Monday when he was unable to get to the rink from his home in Victoria because of highway closures due to heavy rains.

He was bracing for a long drive over the Malahat on Tuesday, but counting his blessings that his team would be able to practice at all. Unlike some teams that were stranded across the province, the Caps had at least been able to return from their weekend games.

“We’re in good shape compared to some of the teams out there,” Passmore commented.

The Caps travelled to Powell River for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, and although they outshot the Kings in both contests and Passmore was pleased with his team’s play, Cowichan ended up on the losing end both nights.

“We have little breakdowns and it’s in our net,” the coach pointed out. “When they have breakdowns, we’re not capitalizing.”

The Caps found themselves trailing 3-0 early in the second period on Friday before Luke Haymes ignited a bounce-back with his fourth of the season late in the second. The teams the traded goals in a furious five-minute span in the middle of the third: Brett Fudger got the Caps within one, then the Kings replied, then Mason Croucher scored for the Caps again before the Kings restored their two-goal edge. An empty-netter iced it for the hosts. Ben Montgomery made 25 saves as the Caps outshot the Kings 35-30.

“We dug ourselves a big hole and had trouble getting out of it,” Passmore said. “I thought we carried the play a lot of the time, but we were not opportunistic in scoring and they were.”

Lucky bounces made a big difference the following night as the Caps lost 4-2.

“I thought we deserved that one,” Passmore said. “We played a really strong game.”

David Jacobs had both Cowichan goals, opening the scoring with a powerplay goal at 12:51 of the first, and ending the scoring with another powerplay marker at 19:25 of the second. Defenceman Colin Campbell collected assists on both goals. Evan May made 21 saves as the Caps outshot the Kings 36-25.

Two days before embarking for Powell River, the Caps played host to the Nanaimo Clippers, and lost 5-2. The Caps were down 2-0 in the first before Haymes scored a powerplay goal with just under a minute and a half remaining in the period. Colten Thompson scored on a breakaway early in the second to make it 2-2. The Clippers pulled ahead 4-2 by the end of the middle frame, then added an empty-netter late in the third. May made 47 stops in his first game since Oct. 23 as the Caps were outshot 27-51.

With three straight losses since beating the Penticton Vees 3-2 at home on Nov. 6, the Caps are now 3-12 and sit ninth in the Coastal Conference. They will be away again this week with road games against the Langley Rivermen on Thursday, the Coquitlam Express on Saturday and the Surrey Eagles on Sunday. The Express were among the teams who were unable to return from their weekend games and had to hole up in Kamloops until catching a plane back to the Lower Mainland on Tuesday afternoon.

“These are important games for us to get back in the standings after dropping two on the weekend,” Passmore said.

The Caps will be getting some players back from injuries, including defencemen Ian Kern and Jordan Edwards, so they won’t have to lean on APs like they did in Powell River. The club has brought in one AP for this weekend’s games, however: 19-year-old goalie McCoy Bidewell, who has a 1.60 goals-against average and .959 save percentage in 12 games with the Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League this season.