The Northern Capitals have been on the road since the start of the new season, but all that travel time especially paid off on the weekend.
In a three-game series in Kelowna, the Caps went undefeated against the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, nabbing two wins and a tie to earn five out of six possible points in BC Hockey’s female midget AAA league.
Prince George’s team outscored their opponents 8-3, winning 4-1 on Friday (Oct. 25), 3-1 on Saturday (Oct. 26), then tied Sunday’s (Oct. 27) contest at 1-1.
The team is 4-5-1-0 through the first third of the 2019-20 season, good enough right now for third place in the five-team league, but they are only one of two hockey clubs to reach that 10-game plateau.
“The times we’re playing at, once we’re getting into those cities, are very odd,” said Northern Capitals head coach Mario Desjardins in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters, adding the ladies’ travel schedule may be frustrating, considering they have no real home games until the end of next month, but they don’t want to make that an excuse.
“We had to stay in Vernon before travelling to Kelowna for all our games this past weekend. That being said, it makes for better players and to be challenged with adversity in terms of having to work through them. It’ll make us better as a team as we move forward and we look forward to having some home games soon. [...] Road trips really bring players together as a family.”
To make things more interesting, four of the first 10 games of the campaign saw the Caps play the Greater Vancouver Comets, the number-one ranked female midget AAA team in all of Canada.
Coach Desjardins says the Comets are the top team for a reason, but also believes his club’s competitiveness is on the same level as they bounced back convincingly in the following games.
“There were a couple games in there when I thought we could’ve done better, but overall, a third of the way through the season, I think we’re pretty much right on track with where we thought we would be,” he explained before being asked about the middle-of-the pack situation.
As it stands, the Northern Capitals are three points back of second place, currently occupied by the Fraser Valley Rush, but they’ve played four games less than Prince George.
However, Desjardins, who won the BC Female Midget Championship with the Caps in 2015 and 2016, is continuously reassuring the girls the season is a marathon and not a sprint, especially with all the travel they have to endure.
“It’s about peaking at the right time of the season. [...] We’re really getting to know each other as far as teammates and on the ice as well. So it’s going to take some time, but I feel like we’re on track and, in some cases a little bit ahead of schedule on some of the things we've been working on; re-grouping and our offensive pressure system and then getting into our defensive systems as well. The girls are picking them up really quickly.”
Prince George product Brooklyn Hutchings leads the Northern Capitals in her rookie season with three goals and six points in 10 games.
Her line with Piper Alexander and Destiny Bautista have combined for 12 points, including seven goals and five assists.
“That line seems to be really clicking and supporting us on the offensive side,” said Desjardins. “[Hutchings] is a playmaker and she sees the ice very well and I think with her two linemates, they feed off each other quite nicely and all three of them are having that success this year.”
The team now has a month off, in which Coach Desjardins is hoping the girls can gain more abilities on special teams in addition to taking time to regroup with family and friends.
The Northern Capitals will be up against Fraser Valley Nov. 22 to 24 for three games.
The following weekend, Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, will see their first three games on home ice at Kin 2 Arena in Prince George against Vancouver Island.