It was a new look for the Victoria Royals and it led to a positive result for the club.
Victoria was able to defeat division foes the Kamloops Blazers 5-3 and extended their winning streak to three games.
The Victoria Royals were powered to a 4-0 lead into the third period Wednesday night, led by the efforts of Kody McDonald and Griffen Outhouse.
McDonald, acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders as part of the trade of Dante Hannoun, proved that he too can bring the offense. “I was fortunate to get a couple of lucky bounces that landed on my stick and I got the job done. Coming in and Dante (Hannoun) leaving, it’s a big role to fill and it feels good right now.”
Outhouse back-stopped his team yet again and played 48 minutes of shutout hockey. Making big saves when needed, he was given a rest for Brock Gould after the Kamloops Blazers got their first goal in the third period.
“Kamloops always plays very physical and they are a tenacious team,” said Royals Head Coach Dan Price post-game. “So I thought our guys did a really good job of also playing physical and using our speed. I thought the guys did a great job recovering after a really long road trip and preparing for tonight’s game.”
Back from six game road trip the Royals settled in for a three game homestand. In addition, it was the eve of the WHL trade deadline, extra nerves were surely high for players on both teams.
Getting the start in net were a pair of veterans, the Blazers starting Lantzville, BC native Dylan Ferguson while the Royal looked to fan-favourite Griffen Outhouse.
Making their debuts in Victoria with McDonald were Jake Kustra and Carson Miller. Defenceman Kustra was playing his first home game since being acquired in early December. It was the first game for McDonald and Miller at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre since being acquired in the trade for Dante Hannoun.
The first period saw a penalty shot as Kamloops forward Jeff Faith was hauled down on the way to the net. On the attempt, Outhouse stretched out the left leg to make the successful save.
Jameson Murray put the Royals on the scoreboard after taking a nice pass from Tarun Fizer and was able to put it past Ferguson. The goal was the second of the year for Murray, who finished the night with two points and the game’s second star. In describing his night, Murray said “I thought I played well. I’ve been playing better and had an opportunity the past couple games with injuries to our back-end. But really it’s my teammates around me who are helping me out.”
Victoria added a second goal at 17:57 as McDonald scored his first as a Royal. Igor Martynov got the primary assist as he made a nice play to find the trailing McDonald for the 2-0 goal.
In the middle frame, McDonald struck again for his second of the night, a powerplay goal at 10:23. Scott Walford found McDonald at the side of the net and the newly acquired forward roofed it between Ferguson and the post.
The third period saw a flurry of five goals scored as Kamloops made it interesting towards the end of the game. Brandon Culter kicked it off with a wrister from just inside the blueline to make it 4-0 Victoria, a goal that likely Ferguson wanted back. Marin Lang got the Blazers on the board at 12:05 of the third, after a Royals turnover behind the net led to a favorable bounce to Lang. In addition, Victoria added another goal, this time off a skate in and in with Phillip Schultz getting credit at 15:43. Kamloops added two late goals on Victoria goaltender Gould, as Kyrell Sopotyk and Zane Franklin had the markers. But it was too late to mount a full comeback.
These two teams are set for a rematch on Friday night, with puck drop at 7:05pm at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. “We know Kamloops are going to come at us even harder on Friday,” said Price. “So we will need to be better as well.”