Thrilling end to Cowichan Valley Capitals’ season

Cowichan Valley Capitals end their playoff season with a close overtime loss to the Surrey Eagles.

Capitals player Vinny Muto knocks the puck away from Sean McGovern during game six of the semifinal series Friday at Cowichan Arena. Muto went on to score the winning goal of the game

Capitals player Vinny Muto knocks the puck away from Sean McGovern during game six of the semifinal series Friday at Cowichan Arena. Muto went on to score the winning goal of the game

It took overtime in game seven to decide the winner of the B.C. Hockey League’s Coastal Conference semifinal playoff between the Cowichan Valley Capitals and the Surrey Eagles.

That’s how close these two teams are in calibre.

Brandon Tanev’s goal at 3:42 of overtime became the narrow thread that separated the teams, sending the Eagles into the next round of the playoffs with a 3-2 win over the Caps Saturday night in Surrey.

Caps’ associate coach and general manager Jim Ingram made an interesting assessment of the series after game one.

“It’s going to be one shot, winner-take-all by the time it’s all said and done,’’ he said.

Truer words have never been spoken because that’s exactly what happened.

The Caps made a great run at it after falling behind 3-1 in the series and tying it up for the opportunity to play in game seven, with the winner going against Powell River.

Surrey twice held the lead on goals by Alex Hagen Saturday night, but twice the Caps came back to tie, and they were starting to look like a team of destiny, especially after Brett Knowles’s goal made it 2-2 with only one minute left in regulation time.

A Surrey defenceman tried to block Knowles’s shot, but it deflected off him and into his own net behind goalie Andrew Hunt.

All Surrey coach Matt Erhart and director of player development and assistant coach Gary Nylund could do was shrug it off.

“I looked at Gary, I said ‘I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be,’’’ said Erhart.

Nothing is more thrilling or as tense as a seventh game in overtime, and Tanev ended it quickly.

“It was a pretty simple goal, a shot and a rebound,’’ said Erhart. “Nothing pretty really.’’

When the game went into overtime, coaches on both sides knew the series was basically up to fate.

“It really could have gone either way,’’ said Erhart.

“Going into overtime in game seven, ‘we’re done here,’’’ he said he told Nylund. “’It’s up to them.’’’

Steve Iacobellis scored the Caps’ other goal with 4:01 left in the second period after Surrey had held the lead since 12:41 of the first.

It was a tough pill for the Caps to swallow, especially for all the team’s veterans who were playing their hearts out during their final season of junior eligibility.

In the end, the teams were separated by just one point during the regular season. In the playoffs, the margin was just as slim, with Surrey scoring just two more goals than the Caps in the thrilling series.