After letting a 3-0 second-period lead disappear, the Cowichan Valley Capitals found a way to turn the tables again late in Tuesday’s playoff game against the Wenatchee Wild and squeaked out a 5-3 victory.
The Wild scored twice in the latter half of the second period and again midway through the third to tie things at 3-3, but Paul Selleck restored Cowichan’s lead with 6:50 left in regulation, and an empty-netter by Preston Brodziak put the game away, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Interior Division semifinal series.
“That was a pretty intense game for us,” Capitals head coach Mike Vandekamp admitted. “They’re a good team on the other side, so we had to defend a little more than we wanted to a couple of times. Obviously, you don’t want to see a 3-0 lead evaporate, but I think you’re just learning the other team won the league championship last year, so they’re not going to quit at any point. I was pretty proud of the way we greased it out. A greasy home win.”
Brady Lynn, Cole Broadhurst and Niko Esposito-Selivanov also scored for the Caps, while Pierce Diamond stopped 28 of 31 shots in the Cowichan net. Shots were fairly even through the first half of the game, but the Wild ended up outshooting the Caps 31-19 by the final whistle.
Vandekamp was proud of the way his team worked most of the night.
“We battled hard,” he said. “We let our foot off the pedal a couple of times on defensive zone faceoffs that kind of got away from us a little bit late in the second, and in the third period we didn’t get a puck out a couple of times. They don’t quit and they’ve got some good size on their side, too, so it’s a constant battle for our team. We have to be relentless if we’re gonna win. It’s the only way we’re gonna.”
This series has a different tone than the Caps’ first-round set against the Penticton Vees, who had trouble with Cowichan’s hard-nosed tactics.
“It’s a little bit more phsyical,” Vandekamp acknowledged. “It’s a little bit more intense. They play a little bit different style, a little bit more aggressive than Penticton does, so it’s definitely different hockey, for sure.”
The teams will be back on the ice at the Cowichan Arena Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.