When the Cranbrook Bucks kicked off a big three-game road trip on Friday night in Merritt, they had a fresh face — an unfamiliar figure — between the pipes.
Making his BC Hockey League debut for the Bucks was 2005-born goaltender Carter Capton — and it was a night he likely won’t soon forget.
Although unfamiliar in the sense that he was playing his first game with Cranbrook, Capton certainly wasn’t a stranger to the organization.
In fact, back in January, the team announced it had committed the 16-year-old goalie to its roster for next season.
While kicking off a weekend road trip in Merritt and trying to give their tandem of Nathan Airey and Evan Gartner some extra rest, the Bucks saw an opportunity to get Capton into his first BCHL game.
The setup seemed perfect — but not bulletproof.
Capton and the Bucks were facing the BCHL’s last place team in the 2-34-3 Merritt Centennials.
However, the Cents last win came against Cranbrook back on Jan. 2, giving the Bucks a little extra inspiration going into Friday’s game.
Cranbrook had been struggling a bit of late as well, with just one win in their previous five games and three in their last 10 coming into this one.
The motivation was there for the group, who was playing in front of a young goalie aiming to make a statement his first BCHL game.
Cranbrook came out flying against the Centennials, outshooting Merritt 17-0 at the midway point of the opening period.
That’s right — Capton’s first few interactions in the game were simply gathering pucks sent the length of the ice and setting them up for his teammates.
It was a great start through Capton’s first 20 minutes in the BCHL, as the Bucks took a 1-0 lead and a 22-3 shots advantage into the first intermission.
The second period brought more of the same, as Cranbrook added three more goals and outshot the Centennials 24-5 in the middle period — in which Capton was perfect again.
Taking a 4-0 lead into the final frame, the Bucks settled into a more structured game, trying to ensure they would finish off the special night.
Cranbrook once again outshot Merritt in the third by a 13-7 margin, and held on to the 4-0 lead for a big shutout win.
In what was a relatively light night for Capton, make no mistake about it — he was solid when tested to earn the 15-save shutout in his BCHL debut.
It was a perfect start to his junior hockey career, and he will always remember posting a shutout win in his first game.
Although it was his first in the BCHL, posting zeros is nothing new for Capton.
In 14 games with Yale Hockey Academy’s U18 Prep team, he’s already posted three shutouts this season.
Capton also owns an 8-4-0 record on the campaign, with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .910 save-percentage as a first-year U18 Prep player.
During the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season, Capton went 3-0-0 with a 0.79 GAA and a .975 SV%, stopping 78 of 80 shots he faced in three games with Yale’s U17 Prep squad.
He also recorded four shutouts back in 2019-20 with Yale’s U15 Prep team, going 12-2-1 with a 2.25 GAA and a .903 SV% that season.
Capton was then selected in the fifth round, 96th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings at the 2020 Western Hockey League Draft.
After a memorable night for Capton, the Bucks certainly hope that the young prospect will be a big part of their upcoming future.