Mike Vandekamp has been hired as the new head coach and general manager of the B.C. Hockey League’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

Cowichan Capitals name Mike Vandekamp head coach

Former Nanaimo bench boss replaces Brian Passmore

The Cowichan Valley Capitals have a new face behind the bench.

Mike Vandekamp has been hired as the new head coach and general manager of the B.C. Hockey League team after Brian Passmore was let go following one season in the position.

Vandekamp has 23 seasons of experience coaching junior hockey in the BCHL, Western Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League, for a total of 1,475 games. He most recently spent seven seasons coaching the Nanaimo Clippers before he was fired last December by the Nanaimo club’s new ownership.

Capitals owner Ray Zhang is looking forward to seeing Vandekamp in his new role.

“Mike’s goal is to improve the Capitals both on and off the ice,” Zhang said.

Vandekamp is excited about his new opportunity.

“I’ve always loved this rink,” he said. “We are going to do everything we can to make it the toughest rink to play in as a visiting team and a place where the fans can come and be proud of their local team’s effort every night.”

Vandekamp is taking over immediately as GM and head coach. He is the Capitals’ third head coach since Zhang bought the team in 2016.

Passmore, who was hired by the team late last summer, will remain with the organization in a hockey development capacity, working with the U16 program and other youth hockey initiatives. Since the end of the regular season, Passmore has been busy recruiting players across Canada and the U.S. for the 2018-19 season.

In Passmore’s lone season with the Caps, Cowichan was the only team in the BCHL to miss the playoffs, finishing last in the Island Division with 10 wins, 41 losses, five overtime losses and two ties. Two players, forward Ty Pochipinski and defenceman Simon Chen – Zhang’s son – picked up NCAA Div. 1 scholarships.

Passmore said he understands that hockey is a business and he is fine with the decision.

“We were trying to build a good team here,” Passmore said. “I was hoping to get a chance to make it my team and turn it around. I care about the town and the team.”

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