The Cowichan Valley Capitals head straight into more B.C. Hockey League exhibition action this week, with the start of the regular season a little under two weeks away.
After a quick four-day camp Aug. 20 at Cowichan Arena, the Caps assembled a squad to take on the Grizzlies in Victoria last Friday. Then, it was off to the Alberni Valley Saturday to face the Bulldogs.
The Caps play in Nanaimo Wednesday before fans get a look at the team at Cowichan Arena for back-to-back games, Fri., Aug. 31 against Powell River and Sat., Sept. 1 against Alberni Valley.
After that, the regular season starts with a Showcase tournament in Chilliwack where the Caps will take on Trail and Coquitlam.
The start is much sooner than last year, but Caps’ head coach Jim Ingram doesn’t mind it that way.
“Last year was a tough go,’’ he said. “We had a lot of kids in here for a long, long time.’’
The Showcase tournament will have the entire league membership situated in the same place for games Sept. 7-9 for the benefit of scouts.
“I love the Showcase idea,’’ said Ingram. “It was so long overdue.’’
Ingram also likes the BCHL schedule this season. There are no games during mid-week except for some teams on holidays.
Games will otherwise be played entirely Fridays through Sundays, giving teams a chance to form a regular practice schedule throughout the season.
“We’ll get into a routine, that’s for sure,’’ said Ingram.
“This way, it’s good for the kids and the schools coming out to have a look, too.’’
It might take fans a while to get used to all the new players. Goalie Derek Dun, defensemen Karver Everson and Troy Paterson and forwards Steven Iacobellis, Steen Cooper, Keyler Bruce, Matt Grant and Mikael Jung are the only holdovers from last season.
However, the Capitals have added much-needed experience to their roster.
Ryan Hanes, who played four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers, will provide valuable depth to the forward line of the B.C. Hockey League club.
Hanes, a five-foot-10, 180-pound Kamloops product, had eight goals and four assists and 72 penalty minutes in 55 games played with the Blazers last season.
Ingram describes Hanes as a hard-working, skilled player whose veteran presence will be an asset for a young Caps’ squad.
Hanes was excited to get going with the Caps this weekend in preparation for the season-opener on Sept. 8.