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Profiling new Cowichan Valley Capitals goaltender Cody Butikis

In May, the Cowichan Valley Capitals announced the recruitment of goaltender Cody Butikis. Butikis is an 2005-born goaltender from Sewall, New Jersey. He spent last season at Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Butikis is joining a rebuilding Capitals squad this season. Midway through the 2022-23 season, the Capitals fired general manager and head coach Brian Passmore, replacing him with Mike Vandekamp, who actually led Cowichan Valley during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Related: Examining new Capitals for 2023-24

Since taking over, Vandekamp has extensively rebuilt the team and Butikis was the first goaltender recruited to join the Capitals 2023-24 roster. This article is about Butikis’ path to Cowichan Valley, but before that, I have an update about Passmore after he left Cowichan Valley.

Earlier this spring, Passmore was hired by the Merritt Centennials to be their general manager and head coach. After being let go by the Capitals, Passmore took over the junior B Kerry Park Islanders of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League as their general manager and head coach.

From Valley Forge to New Jersey to Mount St. Charles

Butikis played his youth hockey with the Valley Forge Minutemen in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League. He spent two seasons with the program, first with the 13U AAA team in 2018-19 and then for the 14U AAA squad in 2019-20. Butikis posted a 2.09 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage in a dozen games with the 13U Minutemen and a 3.07 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage in 10 games for the 14U Minutemen. During that 2019-20 season, he also appeared with St. Augustine Prep, which is based out of Buena Vista Township, New Jersey.

After his time in Valley Forge, Butikis joined the Rockets Hockey Club in Bridgewater, New Jersey for the 2020-21 season. He played 36 games for the 15U AAA team, posting a 22-13-1 record to go along with a 2.19 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage, and six shutouts.

During the 2021-22 season, Butikis joined the Rockets 16U AAA team. His record through 39 games was 27-10-2 and he posted a 2.10 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He also got into 10 games in the NorthEast Pack Hockey League’s 16U division, notching a 2.98 goals-against average, an .891 save percentage, and two shutouts.

This past season, Butikis attended Mount St. Charles Academy for his final year of high school and played 47 games for the 18U AAA team. During his time at Mount St. Charles, Butikis posted impressive numbers.

When Mount St. Charles played at the NEPACK’s 18U level, Butikis played seven games and finished with a sparkling 1.57 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage, and averaged almost one shutout every two games with three in total. Butikis also posted impressive numbers during regular season 18U AAA play. Across 40 games, Butikis posted a goals-against average of 2.61 with a .919 save percentage to go along with a 25-12-1 record.

Stability through a new tandem

Over the last several seasons, the Capitals struggled with goaltending consistency. For one reason or another, McCoy Bidewell is the only goaltender to play more than a single season. Over the last five years, Cowichan Valley iced 15 separate goaltenders and Bidewell brought some needed stability to the crease when he signed with the Caps midway through the 2021-22 season. He’s set to attend the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology this fall.

On June 1, the Capitals traded 2004-born goaltender Lukas Renaud to the Merritt Centennials to complete an earlier trade Cowichan Valley made at the trade deadline. That deal saw the Capitals send future considerations to Merritt for 2004-born forward David Patella.

Related: Examining the blockbuster Capitals and Bandits trade deadline deal

Butikis will form the new goaltending tandem in Cowichan Valley with 2003-born netminder Emerik Despatie from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who the Capitals signed earlier this month. During the 2022-23 season, Despatie played 26 games for the Gatineau Olympiques and had a record of 16-6-3.

Meanwhile, the Capitals completed another trade from the January trade deadline. Back then, they traded 2002-born forward Luke Strickland to the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations. 2004-born goaltender Ethan Morrow and 2004-born forward Matheson Mason are the future considerations coming to Cowichan Valley.

However, the Dukes also¬†traded¬†Morrow’s Canadian junior A rights to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Blackfalds Bulldogs. My gut tells me that Morrow will join Blackfalds next season. Bidewell is a tough act to follow in the Capitals’ crease and for fans in Cowichan Valley, they hope Despaite and Butikis are up to the task.