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Next Generation: Cowichan Valley Capitals

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In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, we will go team-by-team to profile new players entering the league for the upcoming season, including scouting reports from the coaches.

This year, we will go in reverse order of how the teams finished last season, starting with the two clubs that missed the playoffs and ending with the two league finalists. First up is the Cowichan Valley Capitals.


The Cowichan Valley Capitals missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 after finishing the season with a 10-38-4-2 record.

The team made a coaching change during the year and brought back a familiar face in head coach Mike Vandekamp. Vandekamp brings a wealth of BCHL experience, having now previously coached 17 seasons in the league with the Merritt Centennials, Vernon Vipers, Powell River Kings, Nanaimo Clippers and most recently a two-year stint with the Capitals from 2018 to 2020.

With a full offseason to once again put his stamp on the roster, the Fort St. John, B.C. native has brought in a new crop of players with the goal of getting the Caps back into the postseason and competing with the top teams in the conference.

New recruits

Lars Petter Eckholm (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Fetsund, Norway
  • Previous team: Rögle BK (J20 Nationell)

Eckholm played in the top Swedish junior league last year on a Rögle team full of NHL draft picks. The 19-year-old scored 13 goals and added six assists for 19 points in 39 games.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“When I first got connected with him, I had heard he was the type of player that would thrive with me as a coach, which I thought was interesting. I watched him play a lot and I agree. He’s a really hard-working, smart, two-way player. On the team that he played on last year, he didn’t always get all the offensive opportunities. With us, he’ll get more of that and we’ll see his offence blossom. We see him as a really good two-way player.”

Emerick Despatie (2003, G)

  • Hometown: Gatineau, Que.
  • Previous team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Despatie spent the last four years playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including the last three with Gatineau after breaking in with the Quebec Remparts in 2019-20. Over his four years in the league, he compiled a 28-25-13 record and an .873 save percentage.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“Emerick has been around junior hockey for a few years now and was a highly touted goalie as a young guy coming up. Coming out of Major Junior with lots of experience, I think he’s exactly what we needed to team up with [fellow goaltender] Cody [Butikis].

Cody Butikis (2005, G)

  • Hometown: Sewell, N.J.
  • Previous team: Mount St. Charles Academy (18U AAA)

Butikis posted strong numbers at the 18U level last season with Mount St. Charles. The 18-year-old went 25-12-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 40 league games, while posting even better numbers in his team’s NorthEast Pack competition where he finished with a 1.57 goals-against, a .926 save percentage and three shutouts in seven contests.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“I watched Cody play at a big tournament in the U.S. in the spring. I like his size. He’s a very committed athlete. We knew that we needed to have some experience around him since he’s a first-year guy. We’ll ease him into things and I think he’ll be the goalie of the future for our team.”

Matteus Söderbom (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Växjö, Sweden
  • Previous team: Växjö Lakers HC (J20 Nationell)

As a defenceman, Söderbom finished top-10 in team scoring with his hometown team in Växjö, ending the year with 16 points in 48 games.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“He’s got great size. He’s about 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. I think Matteus has a great stick and a great reach. He gives us that physical presence and size that we want to have. He’s a great character kid. I think he’ll be an important player for us.”

Matthew Swanson (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Czar, Alta.
  • Previous team: Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL)

Swanson finished just one point back of the team scoring lead last year with Lloydminster, ending his second full season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 24 goals, 24 assists and 48 points.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“He has lots of experience in junior hockey. He’s a great character kid with a big body who can score. He’s got a big-time shot. I think he’ll provide leadership and offence to the team.”

Ronan O’Donnell (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Fairfield, Conn.
  • Previous team: Belmont Hill School (USHS-Prep)

O’Donnell led Belmont Hill in scoring last year with 43 points and was also the team’s top goal scorer with 24 in 30 games.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, strong winger. He’s physical and he can score. We thought he was a guy that could come in and play top-six right away, even though he’s coming out of prep school hockey. We feel like he’s a natural fit to play in one of our top two spots on the right wing.”

Brock Cummings (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.
  • Previous team: Belmont Hill School (USHS-Prep)

A teammate of O’Donnell’s at Belmont Hill, Cumming finished second in team scoring with 40 points in 30 games and led them in assists with 32.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“We really like Brock’s size and strength. His on-ice intelligence is at a high level. He’s a really good faceoff guy, which is something we struggled with last year. Adding him gives us a big, strong centreman that can do a little bit of everything.”

Keenan Ingram (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Columbia Valley Rockies (KIJHL)

Ingram was the KIJHL’s leading goal scorer in 2022-23 with 43 tallies and the second highest point producer with 74 points in 41 games.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“Keenan is a bit of the classic late bloomer. He’s scored everywhere he’s been, coming up the ladder. He skated with us late last season and, if he has a really good summer, given where he’s at in his development, he could be a guy that could score at our level as well.”

Adam Bourgeois (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: North Okanagan Knights (KIJHL)

Caps fans should already be familiar with Bourgeois as he played 10 games with the BCHL club as an affiliate last year, as well as one with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, contributing a pair of assists. In addition, he played in 18 games for the Vernon Vipers during the 2021-22 campaign, as well as one with the West Kelowna Warriors. With his North Okanagan Knights Junior B team last year, he tied for the team lead in points from the back end with 20 in just 26 contests.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“We like Adam’s character. He’s the consummate team player. We think that he can bring up our level of compete. He’s a good depth defenceman.”

Kent Moors (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Kanata, Ont.
  • Previous team: Summerland Steam (KIJHL)

Moors was the leading scorer for his Junior B team in Summerland last year, finishing his rookie junior season with 40 points in 41 games on 19 goals and 21 assists. He also played in eight games with Cowichan as an affiliate and scored his first BCHL goal in a March 17 game against the Powell River Kings.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“He practiced with us and played some games down the stretch. That allowed us to have a pretty good tryout with him as a 17-year-old. He’s a really smart two-way centre. He’s got lots of offensive upside, but we really like his two-way game and his on-ice intelligence.”

Jack Muhlfeld (2006, F)

  • Hometown: Whitefish, Mont.
  • Previous team: Colorado Rampage (16U AAA)

In 68 games at the 16U level last season, Muhlfeld piled up 23 goals, 18 assists and 41 points for the Rampage.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“We discovered Jack at one of our spring camps this year. In our league, we need to have at least three 16 or 17-year-old players on our roster. We only have one player in that age category that’s returning from last year, so we had an open opportunity. Signing a young player like that, it’s all about the future for him.”

Eddie Romano (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Farmingdale, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Long Island Gulls (NEPACK 18U)

Romano played in the NorthEast Pack league for Long Island last year and had a goal and two assists in 11 games. In 2021-22, he put up 18 points in 47 games for South Kent School 18U AAA.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“I watched Eddie at a big tournament in the U.S. He’s a good skater and is a very competitive two-way defenceman. I like his compete level, but I also think that he has the ability to play any role for us. He’s a smart hockey player.”

Acquired via trade

Matheson Mason (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
  • Previous team: Wellington Dukes (OJHL)
  • College commitment: Lake Superior State University

Mason had over a point per game last year in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, splitting time between Wellington and the Aurora Tigers. He finished his first season in the league with 22 goals and 23 assists for 45 points in 42 games.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“When we traded Luke Strickland to Ontario at the trade deadline, he wanted to play somewhere near his hometown to finish out his junior career. We had quite a few teams show very serious interest in him. We knew that we were going to be able to trade for future considerations and we based the whole decision on bringing Matheson in, so that says a lot about what we thought he could bring, considering we had plenty of names to choose from. He’s a strong-skating, smart, skilled centreman.”

Dalton MacGillivray (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Surrey, B.C.
  • Previous team: Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)

In his rookie season in the BCHL, MacGillivray was a regular contributor in the Chiefs lineup, suiting up for 44 regular-season games and scoring eight goals and seven assists for 15 points. He was also a solid playoff performer in the spring, scoring four goals in 14 postseason contests.

Vandekamp’s scouting report:

“We like Dalton’s offensive upside. He scored lots in Junior B as a 17-year-old. I thought he played well for Chilliwack last year. He’s a player that just needs an opportunity to get into some offensive situations. He’s a smart player who adds depth to our forward group.”


Photo credits: Dan Hickling (Butikis, Muhlfeld), Tami Quan (Ingram, Moors), Garrett James Photography (MacGillivray)