The Cowichan Valley Capitals are experiencing several changes ahead of the upcoming 2021-22 season. Several players from last season’s team have moved on. Capitals general manager and head coach Brian Passmore has been busy building next season’s roster.
While their roster is under construction, the Capitals are also welcoming a new junior B team nearby. The Lake Cowichan Kraken will join the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League next season.
Previously, the closest junior B teams were the Kerry Park Islanders in Mill Bay, BC. Now, another team is a 20-minute drive away from downtown Duncan.
With these coming changes, I want to talk about what’s happened, which players have departed, and which players are coming. I also want to talk about the new Kraken team and how it’ll affect the Capitals.
Departing players and trading places
One of the biggest names to depart the Capitals is goaltender Lucas Pfeil. Pfeil joined the Capitals after spending two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers.
He played for the Capitals during the extended exhibition season and the pod season. In 16 games, Pfeil had a record of 6-7-2, a 3.17 goals-against-average, and a .909 save percentage.
Pfeil was going into his final year of junior hockey and after he finished the season, committed to McGill University in Montreal.
📸 Chaisson Creative pic.twitter.com/yqsQClNt2O
— BCHL (@BCHockeyLeague) July 7, 2021
Despite the loss of Pfeil, the Capitals are welcoming new players. In June, the Capitals acquired defenseman Owen Simpson from the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Simpson is already committed to the University of Connecticut for 2022-23.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pickering and the OJHL didn’t play last season. Instead, Simpson played for the Boston Jr. Bruins of the National Collegiate Development Conference.
In the Burnaby pod, Schovanek scored seven goals and five assists in 18 games. Because of the pandemic, the Guelph Storm’s Ontario Hockey League season was canceled. In 2019-20, Campbell had one assist in 23 games with the Storm.
After the departure of Pfeil, the Capitals have acquired a new goaltender. Will Gurski joins the team via a trade from the Winnipeg Freeze of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Gurski played four games last season for the Freeze and briefly played for the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice as well.
Aside from the traded players, the Capitals have been busy signing several new players. Many of these players come from prep schools across North America and are already committed to colleges for the 2022-23 season. Like many others, COVID-19 wiped out their seasons and they only have stats from the 2019-20 season.
New defenseman Zachary Brault previously played for Shawnigan Lake School. Meanwhile, new forward Luke Haymes comes from Ridley College and incoming defenseman Sebastian Hamming was with St. George’s School last season.
— Cowichan Capitals (@cowichancaps) August 24, 2021
Recently, the Capitals committed forward Aidan Cobb for the 2021-22 season. Cobb is an American import player who last skated for the Odessa Jackalopes in the North American Hockey League.
Several of these signings come from outside British Columbia, but very soon, the Capitals will have another local option for scouting players.
Release the Kraken
Along with the Port Alberni Bombers, the Lake Cowichan Kraken join the VIJHL next season. The Kraken is in the South Division with the nearby Kerry Park Islanders.
Having another junior B team near the Capitals is beneficial for both teams. In Greater Victoria alone, there are four junior B teams from which the Grizzlies can look at and scout players. Near Cowichan Valley, there’s the Islanders in Mill Bay and the Nanaimo Buccaneers.
While BCHL teams have recruited outside players for years now, having more local options doesn’t hurt and more local players get a chance to showcase their skills.
🏒 First look at the new @vijhlofficial team @CowichanKraken at the #CowichanLake Sports Arena for their Showcase at the Lake tourney. @CR_STORM @SurreyKnights @IslandersKP #LakeCowichan #Cowichan #VancouverIsland #JuniorB #Hockey #Sports #Puck pic.twitter.com/zbqq3vWKl8
— VSU – Vancouver Island Sports (@VSUIsland) August 9, 2021
The Kraken’s regular season begins Sept. 8 in Colwood against the Westshore Wolves. Their home opener is Sept. 10 against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings.
The Kraken’s final home game is Feb. 20 against their expansion cousins from Port Alberni. Lake Cowichan plays its last regular season game on Feb. 21 in Campbell River against the Storm.
A new season awaits
In a past article, I wrote about the canceled 2020 BCHL playoffs and how each team was recreated in NHL 20. In that simulation, the Capitals advanced to the virtual Fred Page Cup final and were defeated by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Last season was definitely complicated by the ongoing pandemic. Rosters were in flux as players left BCHL teams for others across North American. The Capitals, like the other 17 BCHL clubs, are rebuilding their roster in hopes of a better outcome . Cowichan Valley is looking for a better outcome than its 7-11-2 record during the 2020-21 pod season.