What a difference a day makes.
Where we saw a goaltending showcase the night before between the Portland Winterhawks and Victoria Royals, Saturday’s game was filled with scoring.
For the second night in a row, the game needed extra time and this time, it was the Winterhawks who sealed it in overtime. Jaydon Dureau completed a hat trick at 1:15 of OT, tallying four points for the match and receiving the game’s first star.
“I felt really good,” said Dureau postgame. “The team really dug in tonight on this long road trip, taking the ferry and coming up here to Victoria. I think our team played really well tonight.”
With a good number of Portland fans in attendance, a few hats made it to the ice for the third goal. “It was nice to have our fans cheering you on in Canada,” said Dureau. “It was kind of special.”
With 11 goals on the scoresheet, 20 players recorded a point between the two teams. For Portland, it was Dureau (3g,1a), Seth Jarvis (1g,3a) and Jake Gricius (1g,2a) with multiple points.
“Our team has a lot of depth,” said Dureau of the scoring. “Every one of our lines is a threat and I think that’s the biggest thing that helps us win games. Each of our lines from one to four can help produce and that’s the biggest thing.”
Victoria also touted its balanced scoring postgame.
“It’s been a strength of our team all year,” said Royals head coach Dan Price. “So like tonight, with [Phillip] Schultz and [Tarun] Fizer both out, we were able to use pretty much everybody on the roster to get everybody involved in contributing.”
The Royals were led by multiple points from Kaid Oliver (2g), Keanu Derungs (2g), Carson Miller (1g,1a), Gary Haden (2a) and Brandon Cutler (2a).
The Royals started their new goalie Adam Evanoff in net, acquired at the trade deadline. Facing the Winterhawks is no easy feat, and even with the loss, his new teammates were impressed with the 40-save performance.
“He played awesome,” said Oliver of Evanoff. “He’s a great guy. He works really hard and it was great to see him play well tonight. Too bad we couldn’t pull it out for him but I think he played lights out.”
Victoria struck first, scoring on its first shot of the game on Portland starter Joel Hofer. Brayden Tracey found Miller for the game’s opening goal, just two minutes in. The goal by Miller came with the man advantage and gave the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Following the goal, Victoria had a nice sequence and forced Joel Hofer to make multiple agile saves.
Portland responded as Dureau picked up the puck in the slot and caught Evanoff out of position. It was the ninth goal of the year for Dureau and came at 5:14.
Victoria pulled ahead after some nice work down low by the forwards. Riley Gannon found Derungs out front who wired it home for this 10th of the season. The assist was the first Western Hockey League point for Nanaimo’s Gannon.
Near the end of the period, tempers boiled over as Will Warm and Kishaun Gervais dropped the mitts. Indeed, Saturday night is alright for fighting, as the Elton John tune played both players off for an early intermission.
A close first period saw the Winterhawks lead in shots 18-17, but Victoria took a 2-1 goal advantage into the break.
A wild second period saw goals galore and some rough stuff.
Portland came out gunning. First, it was Dureau scoring his second of the game, as an Evanoff rebound bounced to the Portland forward at 3:26.
Portland pulled ahead as Gricius put the puck five-hole on the Victoria goalie. The goal was the 14th of the season for Gricius and his second point of the game.
Victoria got one back as a nice backdoor feed from Gary Haden to Kaid Oliver led to a power-play goal for the Royals, who tied it up at 10:44.
Victoria regained the lead with another power-play goal, as Derungs whistled a shot from the faceoff dot over Hofer. The goal at 14:16 gave the Royals a 4-3 lead.
As the goal was being announced in-house, the Winterhawks raced down and scored on Evanoff. A centering pass bounced off the skate of Jack O’Brien for another tying goal at 14:33, just 17 seconds after the Victoria goal.
The goals were followed by a big scrap by Sean Gulka and Nick Cicek, who both threw some haymakers and fired up the crowd further.
The end of the second period saw the game deadlocked at four goals apiece, with a total of five goals scored in the middle frame.
Victoria kept the momentum going into the third period. Brandon Cutler used his speed to carry it into the offensive zone and found Oliver for his second of the game. The goal at 2:46 gave the Royals yet another lead, their third of the game.
The game tightened up in the back half of the third period, as Victoria looked to hang onto its lead for good.
No such luck for the home team, as the Winterhawks’ Jarvis tied it up 5-5 with a one-timer as Portland had a late man advantage at 16:28.
That was it for regulation scoring, and the two teams went to overtime for the second consecutive night.
The game was sealed as Reece Newkirk and Dureau went in 2-on-1, with Dureau putting a backhander past Evanoff.
Next up for the Winterhawks, they return home to host the Regina Pats on Tuesday, Jan 14th.
That same night, the Royals return to action, hosting another U.S. Division team, the Tri-City Americans.
“They’re a really good team too,” said Price of the Americans. “They’re well-coached and play hard. A little bit of a younger team but they’re really competitive. Super important points for us within our division and they are trying to position themselves for either the wild card or within their division. Those are going to be two very competitive games.”