The Victoria Royals defeated the Portland Winterhawks in overtime Friday, with newcomer Brayden Tracey scoring to seal the 2-1 victory.
Acquired in a massive trade deadline deal, Tracey was playing in his first game with his new club and came up big. The Calgary, AB, native jumped on a loose puck and winged a shot towards Hofer for the win at 1:46 of overtime.
“I saw the puck bounce to the boards and kind of looked up and saw the shot,” said Tracey of the game winner. The goal capped a whirlwind 24 hours for the forward. When asked if it had all settled in yet, he said, “No, not really. It all kind of happened. I think it’s only been 24 hours. So, it has all happened real quick, and I’m very excited.”
The game was a goaltending duel, as starters and former teammates Joel Hofer and Shane Farkas put on a clinic, showcasing big saves in an entertaining game.
Farkas was the game’s first star, turning aside 42 of the 43 shots he faced.
“Two really good teams going at it,” said Farkas. “The pace is high. I think everyone was engaged, and when everyone’s in, it makes for a fun hockey. — to play and to watch for sure.”
“When the guys in front of me are playing the way that they do, it really means a lot to me personally,” added Farkas. “That they’re willing to do that, sacrifice and really help each other win.”
Leading into the game, the big storylines had the arena abuzz. Portland goalie Hofer made his return to Canadian soil after backstopping Canada to the gold medal last week at the World Junior Championships.
Pregame, a vignette played on the big screen for Hofer and was met with a loud ovation from the Victoria crowd.
“It was pretty special,” said Hofer. “I didn’t expect something quite like that, especially on the road. It definitely means a lot from the Royals fans. A pretty cool moment.”
For Victoria, the talk was of the team’s two new pickups — the much-touted Tracey and Adam Evanoff.
After seven games versus the BC Division, including a five-game road trip, the Royals returned home to battle the U.S. Division Winterhawks.
A late Victoria penalty led to the first goal of the game. Seth Jarvis slipped the puck to Reece Newkirk who buried it past Farkas just six seconds into the man advantage at 15:43 of the first.
The Winterhawks withstood the early pressure by Victoria and went into the intermission with the 1-0 lead. After facing nine shots in the first half of the frame, Hofer only saw one shot in final ten minutes. No signs of fatigue for the Portland goaltender as he was the difference in the first period.
Early in the second, Portland had Farkas down and out, without his stick. In the mad flurry, the ‘Hawks hit the post on a great chance to pull ahead further.
Neither team could solve the goalies in the middle frame and the game remained 1-0 for the Winterhawks. Second period shots were 12-6 in favour of the visiting team.
With just over six minutes remaining in the game, the persistent Royals pulled even. Keanu Derungs collected the puck and wrapped it around, getting two swipes with the second beating Hofer. For Derungs, it was his ninth of the season and came at 13:58.
The late Victoria goal forced overtime where the newcomer was the hero. Tracey sealed the deal in front of his new hometown fans and capped a busy couple of days for the 18-year-old.
The two teams play the second half of a back-to-back Saturday, with puck drop at 7:05 pm in Victoria.