(Victoria, BC) The second game of a weekend set went Saturday in Victoria as the Royals (34-19-3-1) and Kelowna Rockets (33-17-4-1) dueled for first place in the BC Division. Victoria expected the Rockets to come in hot, looking to erase a 6-1 defeat the night before. Griffin Outhouse got the start in net again for Victoria after some brilliant play the night before. For Kelowna, James Porter got the call and looked to shutdown the Victoria offence.
Victoria struck first as Noah Gregor opened the scoring at 3:52, coming out from behind the net and tucking one far side past Kelowna goalie James Porter.
The seemingly bad-blood continued between these teams, as multiple penalties to both teams occurred over the next minutes. On a 4-on-3 man advantage, Kole Lind fired in a one-timer rocket from the left circle, beating Griffin Outhouse to tie the game at 1-1.
Cal Foote pulled the Rockets ahead at 13:18 with a quick shot from the point, a wrist shot that seemed to have eyes for the net. The remainder of the period saw intense action in both ends, but no further scoring. Rockets lead 2-1 at the intermission, with shots 12-10 for the Royals.
Kelowna started the second period by applying pressure on the Royals, looking to add to their lead. The Royals weathered the storm and both teams settled in for a tight battle. The physical play continued with players charging hard to the net and keeping the goalies busy.
At 17:44 Tanner Kaspick took a nice saucer-pass from Gregor and displayed nice hands to pull it past Porter, pulling the teams even. Gregor and Kaspick were starting to show some great chemistry, with the pair involved of both Royals goals. The second period ended tied 2-2, with period shots 12 to 8 for Victoria.
Kelowna pulled ahead again eight and half minutes into the third period, as Leif Mattson dug out the puck behind the net and fed Conner Bruggen-Cate who buried it.
Shortly after the Kelowna goal, Igor Martynov was checked from behind by Braydyn Chizen and Victoria went to the powerplay. Gregor then scored his second of the night at 10:19, going short-side over the glove of Porter to tie the game once more.
Chances late for both clubs did not result in any more scoring, setting up overtime with the game ties at 3-3. Kelowna looked strong in the third period and out-shot the Royals 17 to 11.
In the extra frame Kyle Topping took a penalty for tripping Hannoun and the Royals went to the man-advantage. On the powerplay, some nice passing led to Kaspick drilling a one-time slapshot for the game winner at 2:22 of overtime. The crowd of 5874 erupted with the snipe by Kaspick, which capped off a great game with a playoff atmosphere.
Depth and secondary scoring was key tonight for the Royals as unlike the previous night, Victoris’a big line of Soy, Hannoun and Phillips were held fairly in-check. . Goaltending was superb for both teams, as Porter and Outhouse were both on their top game. Victoria overcame being down twice in the game, never quitting throughout and got the victory to take over top spot in the BC Division by one point.
The two teams now head back to Kelowna for a matinée game on Monday with a 2:05pm start at Prospera Place.
Streak Set– Matthew Phillips tied the franchise record for longest point streak at 17 games, recording 32 points over that stretch (13G, 19A). The Royals captain had also set that record earlier this season as well.
Record in Sight– Phillips tonight tied the the Victoria record for most points in a season at 91 points. (held by Alex Forsberg in 2017). The franchise record is held by former Chilliwack Bruin Mark Santorelli who scored 101 points (27g-74a) in 2007-08
Paying Dividends- Since the trade deadline, Victoria’s new acquisitions have scored 26 of 61 goals scored by the Royals. Tanner Kaspick lead the way with eight goals, while Jeff de Wit has five since the deadline
Career Year- Dante Hannoun eclipsed his previous career best of 64 points and now sits at 66 points. Playing against the top teams of Portland and Kelowna, he has 9 points in the last three games.