The Cowichan Valley Capitals haven’t played a hockey game since Oct. 24, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had lots going on.
The team has been able to hold practices with all players since late December, thanks to an adjustment of COVID-19 rules by viaSport, but games won’t happen until after Feb. 5 at the earliest.
Defenceman Cullen Ferguson, who was among the team’s top performers during exhibition play in October, apparently didn’t enjoy the waiting game, and left the club last week to join the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings of the North American Hockey League.
The 2001-born blueliner from Binbrook, Ont. had two goals and five assists in eight training camp games in the fall. He played 56 games for the Caps last season, scoring once and adding 12 helpers, then had one assist in five playoff contests. As of this Tuesday, he had played in two games for the Wings, posting one assist and a plus-five rating.
Ferguson committed in November to play NCAA hockey at Union College starting in September 2021.
The Caps traded another Union College commit away last week, shipping 20-year-old Thomas Richter to the Penticton Vees for future considerations. Richter had two goals and eight assists in 56 games for the Prince George Spruce Kings last season, and recorded two goals and four helpers in four training camp games for the Caps in October.
Richter’s younger brother, Beanie, is in his first season with the Vees. Their father is former NHL all-star goalie Mike Richter.
Two former Caps players have been on the move in the NCAA ranks as well, both relocating from chilly and hockey-less Alaska to warmer climes in the Lower 48.
Forward Max Newton announced at the end of December that he was transferring from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks to Merrimack University in Massachusettes, while defenceman Tyrell Boucher announced last week that he was leaving the University of Alaska-Anchorage for Northern Michigan University. Both Alaska schools opted out of the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19, and Anchorage plans to cut men’s hockey entirely at the end of the year.
Newton led the Caps in scoring in 2016-17 with 59 points on 25 goals and 34 assists in 58 games before starting his three-year career at Alaska-Fairbanks. He finished second on the Nanooks last year with 27 points on nine goals and 18 assists in 36 games, and was slated to serve as team captain this year. His .642 faceoff percentage was third in the NCAA last season.
Boucher finished second in scoring among Cowichan defencemen last season, his lone campaign with the Caps, scoring six goals and setting up 31 more for 37 points in 58 games. He added two helpers in five playoff contests. Boucher didn’t play a game during his brief tenure with the Seawolves.