Sports

Caps refuse to roll over for two of the BCHL’s top teams

Caps
Caps' Jamie Waddington harasses Brady Shaw of the Surrey Eagles near the team benches during Sunday's B.C. Hockey League game at Cowichan Arena.
— image credit: Don Bodger

Two teams with the fewest regulation-time losses in the B.C. Hockey League that might have thought the Cowichan Valley Capitals would be a pushover were sadly mistaken.

Both the Victoria Grizzlies and the Surrey Eagles ran into a pesky Caps' team that showed plenty of character and heart with nothing on the line but pride.

The Caps trounced the Grizzlies 6-2 in Victoria Friday and also took the rematch 5-4 in overtime Saturday at Cowichan Arena. Playing their third game in three days, the Caps fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period against the Eagles to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime, only to lose 4-3.

Caps' coach Aaron Plumb liked the fact his players were upset about giving up an overtime goal to the Eagles' Brady Shaw and missed a chance for a weekend sweep.

The Caps certainly didn't look at all like an overmatched team with a 13-31-7 record against the now 33-12-7 Grizzlies and 33-13-7 Eagles.

"There was no bigger test for the boys than this weekend,'' said Plumb. "I just had a chat with the boys about the strides we've been making.

"They're holding themselves more accountable and demanding more of themselves.''

Plumb said the players are eager to keep playing hard to show their appreciation for the continued support of the fans.

"That's what we had the team meetings about is this is what it's going to come down to is character and heart,'' said Plumb.

"I don't think there's a team anywhere right now thinking they've got it easy against us. The boys, they're fighting till the end.''

Forward Garrett Skrbich, who's heading to Princeton next season, has been a key go-to guy and he especially enjoyed sticking it to his former Victoria teammates and making another top team like Surrey know it was fortunate to escape with two points.

"I think it's just a good group of guys, a good character group,'' he said.

"You can see it in everyone's faces. Everyone's excited about coming together.''

Skrbich had a pair of goals in Victoria, including an empty-netter, while Jesse Neher also scored twice. Kyle Horsman and Luke Gordon notched singles.

Horsman scored the overtime winner against Victoria in the rematch. Truman Gonzales fired a pair while Skrbich and Mitch Ball rounded out the scoring.

Neher continued his hot scoring streak with two against Surrey and Gordon's goal with 2:30 left sent the game to overtime.

"Definitely, it's been a good opportunity for me in Cowichan,'' said Skrbich in taking a lead role with a young team. "It's great to be contributing to a winning team.''

The Caps' goaltenders were both brilliant. Patrick Spano played in both the Victoria games, making 34 saves Friday and 44 Saturday. Connor LaCouvee turned away 40 shots against Surrey, including a tremendous stop with 1:46 left that allowed the Caps to go into overtime.

The Caps may be out of the playoffs, but Skrbich likes the way the team is building for success down the road.

The Caps are on the Lower Mainland this weekend for three games. They close out the season at home against Powell River March 8 and West Kelowna March 9.

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