Examining new Capitals for 2023-24

The Cowichan Valley Capitals 2022-23 regular season was a step back as they finished ninth in the B.C. Hockey League’s Coastal Conference. Their overall record was 10-38-0-6.

During the season, the Capitals replaced head coach and general manager Brian Passmore with veteran bench boss and GM Mike Vandekamp. Since taking the reigns in Cowichan Valley, Vandekamp made a series of trades to improve the team.

With the season over, the Capitals are preparing for next season and have already started recruiting players. One player shares several similarities to a departing Capitals goaltender.

Forwards Keenan Ingram, Kent Moors, Ameen Ghosheh, Ronan O’Donnell, Brock Cummings, defenders Eddie Romano, and Adam Bourgeois are set to join the Capitals for the 2023-24 season. Four of them are 2005-born players.

A noteworthy addition is Ingram as he shares several similarities to departing netminder McCoy Bidewell. Both were Alberta-born players who joined Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams before making the jump to the BCHL. Bidewell started with the Fernie Ghostriders in 2021-22 before joining the Capitals.

This article traces five of the new players’ paths to Cowichan Valley.

Coming from America

Coming from Aliso Viejo, Calif., next season is Ghosheh, a product of the Anaheim Jr. Ducks hockey program. Last season, Ghosheh played 82 games between the Jr. Ducks and the Santa Margarita Prep School team and finished with 55 goals and 72 assists.

O’Donnell is another offensive forward who the Capitals recruited from Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Mass., which is a western suburb of Boston. In 30 games for Belmont Hill this past season, O’Donnell had 24 goals and 19 assists. He is committed to Yale University.

Coming from New York State is Romano. Before being recruited, the Farmingdale, N.Y. product played several seasons with the Long Island Gulls hockey program. He has also played for the New Jersey Rockets 16U AAA hockey program in 2020-21 and the South Kent School 18U AAA team in 2021-22. During the 2022-23 season, Romano played 11 games for the Long Island Gulls 18U AAA squad, scoring one goal and two assists.

Coming from Massachusetts is Mississauga, Ont. forward Cummings, who played with O’Donnell at Belmont Hill School last season. Cummings’ minor hockey career was spent with the Mississauga Rebels AAA hockey program before jumping to the Toronto Nationals U16 AAA club in 2020-21. He started attending Belmont Hill School in September 2021.

O’Donnell and Romano are the latest players recruited from New England. Capitals second-year forward Andrew Haxton is from Rhode Island, while veteran Cowichan Valley blueliners Luke Santilli and William Elias are from Massachusetts.

Coming from the Okanagan

Both Bourgeois and Moors are recruited from Okanagan-based KIJHL teams. Bourgeois played for the North Okanagan Knights, while Moors played on the Summerland Steam.

Bourgeois spent time in the Cariboo Cougars and Okanagan Rockets hockey programs before making the jump to junior hockey. During the 2021-22 season, Bourgeois gained BCHL experience as a regular rostered player for the Vernon Vipers and then as an affiliate player with the West Kelowna Warriors.

This past season, Bourgeois served as an affiliate player for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Capitals. In 10 games with Cowichan Valley, the Kelowna, B.C. native notched two assists.

As for Moors, the Kanata, Ont. product’s minor hockey career took him through his hometown Ottawa Myers Automotive Association. In 2021-22, he ended up playing northeast of Ottawa with the Renfew Wolves U18 AAA team.

Like Bourgeois, Moors played several games as an affiliate player for the Capitals in 2022-23. In eight games, Moors scored one goal, tallying his first career BCHL marker in a 9-5 loss to Powell River on St. Patrick’s Day.

Coming from the Kootenays

Of all the new players joining the Capitals, Ingram is noteworthy. As mentioned above, he has several things in common with Bidewell — other than the fact that they play different positions.

It was a game-changer when Bidewell joined the Capitals midway through last season. His outstanding play helped Cowichan Valley claim the final playoff spot in the Coastal Conference

Ingram is an offensive powerhouse who should have an immediate impact on the Capitals’ forward group. In 41 games for the Rockies, the Calgary native scored 43 goals and 31 assists. He also posted 37 goals and 19 assists while playing for the Northwest Calgary Athletic Association Stamps U18 AA team in 2021-22.

Earlier, I mentioned Bidewell’s signing in November 2021 as a game-changer for the Capitals, but he’s now aged out of junior hockey. The Capitals need a new starting goalie for next season but this past season’s backup netminder Lukas Renaud has two more seasons of junior hockey eligibility before he ages out.