Early game starts can affect hockey teams in many ways. Consequently, it often results in both teams performing sluggishly as they adapt to the unusual game situation. In contrast, the Royals and Cougars provided action a from puck-drop.
The Victoria Royals (38-25-4-2) welcomed the Prince George Cougars (23-36-5-4) in an early Sunday matinée start. The Cougars were looking for a split after losing the game to the Royals in overtime two nights before.
The early start paired with a time-change meant both teams looked to get their legs moving early.
Surprisingly, the first goal did not take long at just 15 seconds in. A Prince George point shot hit a body in front and fell where Aaron Boyd banged it in for a 1-0 lead.
The quick visitor goal served as wakeup call to the Royals who began a push back. At 2:36 Tarun Fizer took the puck in the slot, spun and fired a wristshot over the blocker of Tavin Grant tying the game at 1-1.
Cameron MacPhee and Braydon Buziak had a battle in front and decided to drop the gloves for a quick fight. As a result, Victoria came out of the fight on the power play, where captain Matthew Phillips redirected it neatly at the side of the net for a goal. For Phillips the goal at 13:53 was his 46th of the year and gave the Royals the 2-1 lead.
While on 4-on-4, the Cougars took a rebound from Griffen Outhouse and Joel Lakusta was able to fire it home to tie the game at 17:14.
A physical first period saw 22 minutes in penalties called and shot were 17 to 12 for the Royals.
The second period saw a long stretch of play without a whistle. There were chances and nice saves at both ends, most noteworthy was a Grant stretch save on Tyler Soy.
Nine seconds into a power play, Jackson Leppard put his team up 3-2 due to another Outhouse rebound loose at the side of the net.
For the second game in a row, Victoria had a lull in the second period. As a result, the Cougars were able to grab momentum and the lead.
Igor Martynov scored on a beautiful goal unassisted at 8:09 of the third period to tie the game yet again. The forward from Belarus stripped Lakusta behind the net, then wrapped it around Grant to the far side.
Phillips tapped in his second of the game, as Grant made a huge save on Soy, however the rebound went straight to Phillips. The power play goal at 13:08 put Victoria in the lead again 4-3.
The Cougars pulled their goalie, as a result had some chances on Outhouse. However, the Phillips goal stood as the game-winner. For the second game in a row the Royals powered back in the third period.
Victoria was able to weather a surprisingly quick start for an early game by Prince George, as well as overcome a lull in the second period.
Notable was the Royals power play on afternoon going 2-for-2 including the game winner.
Victoria will play the Everett Silvertips at the XFINITY Arena on Friday, March.16th. The game in Everett will start a home-and-home to end the regular season.
- Winner,Winner– With todays 33 save win, Griffen Outhouse set a franchise record for most wins in a season with 35. Outhouse himself set the record of 34 in the 2016-17 campaign.
- 200 Strong– Lane Zablocki played in his 200th WHL game on Sunday. The Detroit Red Wings draft pick has played games for the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Royals.
- Another Record– Tyler Soy played in his 321st game for Victoria, which eclipses the record held by former Royals defenceman Ryan Gagnon.
— Victoria Royals (@victoriaroyals) March 11, 2018