Sports

Concussions another challenge for Caps

Taking a tumble in pursuit of the puck is the Caps
Taking a tumble in pursuit of the puck is the Caps' Jesse Neher, who falls at the feet of the Bulldogs' Chase Van Allen Saturday at Cowichan Arena.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

The last thing Aaron Plumb needed while making his head coaching debut with the Cowichan Valley Capitals was more adversity.

Concussions took two key players out of the Caps’ lineup before and during a B.C. Hockey League doubleheader against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

No. 1 defenceman Jarrett Brown suffered a concussion in practice and didn’t play during Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Bulldogs in Port Alberni. He returned to the lineup Saturday at Cowichan Arena in a 5-3 setback against the Bulldogs, but clearly wasn’t 100 %.

Forward Steen Cooper lasted three shifts in Port Alberni before leaving with a concussion.

“I imagine he’ll be out for a long time,’’ Plumb said of Cooper.

“It’s not my debut I was hoping for. It’s been one of those years. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, it just doesn’t go your way.’’

Luke Gordon scored the Caps’ lone goal Friday.

The Caps brought up local product Alex Milligan Saturday from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s Kerry Park Islanders to help fill the void at forward left by Cooper’s injury.

“He’s a good kid and he’s got some grit to him,’’ said Plumb of Milligan.

The Caps had a 3-1 lead on the Bulldogs in the rematch after the second period, but couldn’t hold on.

“It seemed like the wheels fell off the bus,’’ said Plumb.

Alberni’s Evan Tironese started the comeback in the first minute of the third on a power play. Nicholas Kerr tied it less than three minutes later and Tironese notched the winner with 2:16 remaining before Ryan Lough’s empty-netter in the last two seconds.

Hayden-James Berra, Grant Nicholson and Jesse Neher scored for the Caps.

Plumb said his mandate is to be there for the kids and keep them positive.

“It’s a bit of an honour to be looked upon to try and have the composure and keep ourselves together at the seams,’’ he said.

“It’s also very stressful. I care about the kids. I’m going to do the best I can.’’

The Caps play a home-and-home with Nanaimo Friday and Saturday and visit Powell River Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough,’’ said Plumb. “It doesn’t matter what we’re dealt, we’ve got to play it.’’

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