The Cowichan Valley Capitals are playoff-bound.
It came right down to the wire, but a win for the Caps on Friday night, combined with a winless weekend for the Powell River Kings, means the Caps will head to the B.C. Hockey League postseason while the Kings will go home.
The Caps beat the Victoria Grizzlies 6-2 on Friday and lost to the Nanaimo Clippers 4-3 on Saturday. That meant the Kings, who lost on Thursday and Saturday, needed a win over the Surrey Eagles on Sunday afternoon to move into the final Coastal Conference playoff spot.
The Caps were holding their annual awards banquet at the Cowichan Golf & Country Club on Sunday evening when the results of Powell River’s last game came through: a 2-1 win for Surrey.
“There was a good sense of enjoyment for a night after a stressful couple of weeks,” Passmore admitted. “All 120 people didn’t know what the night was going to be like until about 45 minutes into the banquet. Then the celebration was on.
“The hourglass almost ran out on us, but we never quit. It was kind of awkward going to the banquet not knowing if it was going to be a good night or a sour one.”
On Friday, the Caps led the Grizzlies 2-0 after the first period on goals by K.T. Walters and James Bohn, and Griffin Wilson and Luke Haymes scored in the second to make it 4-0. The Grizzlies got on the board midway through the third, but the Caps replied quickly with one by Matteo Turrin, then Haymes followed up with his second of the game while the Caps were shorthanded. The Grizzlies added one more with 57 seconds left in the game. David Jacobs finished with three assists, Haymes had a helper to give himself a three-point night, and Walters had a goal and an assist for his first multi-point game as a Capital.
The Caps needed just one point to lock up their playoff spot on Saturday, and came within a single shot of doing it. Trailing 4-3 late in the third period, the Caps were awarded a penalty shot with three seconds left in regulation when the visiting Clippers kept knocking their net off its moorings. Anyone on the ice could have taken the shot, but the Caps went with Jacobs, who already had two goals and an assist. Jacobs made a good move, but was denied on the attempt by Nanaimo’s 6-foot-8 netminder, Cooper Black, and the Caps were forced to scoreboard-watch on Sunday.
Haymes had Cowichan’s other goal on Saturday, and Wilson had two helpers. Bidewell made 40 saves as the Caps outshot the Kings 46-44.
Jacobs was named the BCHL’s first star of the week for his six-point weekend, while Haymes received an honourable mention.
The Caps will take on the first-place Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the first round of the playoffs. The Caps won twice and lost seven times in nine games against the Bulldogs this season, going 1-4 at home and 1-3 in Port Alberni. Six of those games were decided by one or two goals.
“We’ve had some good games,” Passmore said. “Both teams respect each other. It should be good, hard hockey and exciting for the fans.”
The best-of-seven series will begin in Port Alberni on April 1 and 2, then move to Cowichan for April 5 and 6. If necessary, the remaining games will be played on April 8 in Alberni, April 10 in Cowichan and April 11 in Alberni.