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Tensions growing for Cowichan after three straight losses

Hosting the much younger Victoria Grizzlies in the second game of a home-and-home series series on Oct. 18, the Capitals lost 4-0 in another disappointing affair. Cowichan was the dominant team in both games. They applied long periods of offensive pressure, but outstanding goaltending and counter strikes from Victoria’s forwards earned them the road win.

All night, the Grizzlies demonstrated they can skate with the big boys in the BCHL. The Grizzlies employed high-speed neutral zone rushes and north-south routes along the wing when attacking Caps back-up netminder Ben Howard. Howard played well though, stopping 27 of 30 despite the loss. Zero goals for Cowichan was the issue.

If two pucks ringing off the post in the second period, and another two in the third do not paint enough of a picture of how this game transpired for the Capitals… keep reading.

First Period Pressure from Cowichan

Former Nanaimo Buccaneers forward and Cowichan Valley native Luc Wilson had a few strong shifts early and looked good overall. The Caps looked to run away with this game early based on how easy Wilson and his teammates were out playing the Grizz. As the period went on, the Grizzlies countered more often with increasingly better scoring opportunities. The Grizzlies also started playing physical, laying a few huge hits in not only the first period, but throughout the game.

Cullen Ferguson of the Capitals answered with what looks like a clean hit in the neutral zone—a hit similar to ones Victoria laid all game – but he was penalized with charging instead.

The Grizzlies were unable to produce any puck movement on their first power play and the Capitals continued to control the pace of the game after a phenomenal kill. What eventually compromised the Capitals’ early momentum was their inability to score on a late first period power play even with total offensive control, outstanding puck movement and various scoring chances.

Without any insurance going into the second, Cowichan allowed the speedy Grizzlies plenty of time to take control of a wide-open hockey game.

Grizzlies Play a Speed Game

Although Victoria looked more focused and positionally sound in the second period, it resembled the first with the Capitals applying most of the pressure and scoring chances… even when short handed. But Victoria began checking more and continued to counter with high level chances of its own. It paid off with the Grizzlies opening the scoring late in the second period moments after their fourth power play.

Frustrations grew for players and fans alike in the third. The Capitals failed to capitalize on two power plays—one just five seconds after puck drop. Kudos to the Grizzlies who played their best period of the game after killing the first penalty. The Grizzlies out skated the Capitals, finished checks in the neutral zone, and scored three goals. One coming from junior B call-up Kahlil Fontana, and the other from the quick skating Providence College commit Cody Monds.

Cowichan Valley Captials: Takeaways

Cowichan Valley may have deserved to win this game. Yet, this is an example of just how special hockey and furthermore this league can be. No BCHL club is safe giving up time and space despite the amount of shots they take.

Final takeaways from Friday include Joe Howe’s first star of the game performance for the Grizzlies. He earned a shutout making 45 saves. This is incredible seeing how he let in eight the last time he faced the Capitals.

Howard played solid despite the loss. He even stopped Grizzlies’ forward Stephen Konroyd on a penalty shot in the second period.

Cowichan’s offensive zone play was great all game. It was terrible puck luck that cost them goals five-on-five and on both special teams. However, one play they executed several times included setting up a man in the slot by the play maker either skating up the wing with speed and passing it back once he reaches the corner, and/or passing upon setting up behind the opponent’s net. The Capitals had several chances performing those two plays alone.

Finally, players of note for the Capitals on Friday include:

Dmitri Mikrogiannakis: numerous prime scoring chances;

Will Arquiett: in addition to playing well offensively, was exceptional in the faceoff circle.

Unfortunately, the Caps scoring woes continued the following night when they hosted the Wenatchee Wild. For thoughts on the 7-3 loss and more to come, follow BCHLNetwork on Twitter, and the Cowichan Valley Capitals tag on BCHL Network.