The Victoria Royals defeated the Vancouver Giants 4-1 Sunday with a rebound effort and some excellent goaltending.
“I know it’s just one regular-season game,” said Victoria Head Coach Dan Price. “But for me, that was a very special win. To bounce back after the way the last two [games] went, to have some of the heroic efforts – Will Warm’s shot block, Brayden Tracey’s two shot blocks and Adam Evanoff with the performance that he had after getting pulled last night – I have so much respect for our players.”
Victoria’s offence jumped to life in the second and third periods, and overall they scored four unanswered goals.
Evanoff played well between the pipes for Victoria, making 33 saves including a couple of highlight-reel stops. The effort was enough to earn the Pentiction, BC native the first star for the game and was a nice bounce-back after getting the hook the day before.
“I’ll tell you, Adam would have flat out strangled me if I didn’t start him,” said Price with a laugh. “There was no way he was not starting. We would have taken a too-many men on the ice penalty because there would have been two goalies in the net. That was his decision, not mine.”
“After a game like that yesterday by me, I knew I had to be better today,” said Evanoff. “I came to the rink with the right mindset and a short memory of yesterday.”
“After an effort like that, especially if you have a week off for another game, you don’t want to sit there and stew on it,” added Evanoff. “So, I’m glad I got the start today and I’m glad it went well.”
Royals’ forward Brandon Cutler had a goal and two assists in the game. “We were not going to give up and go down easy,” said Cutler. “We’re still playing for home-ice advantage and just because we secured a playoff spot, it’s still a race for that home-ice advantage. We want it so we’re not going to go down easy and we didn’t give up.”
Sunday’s action marked the finale for three games in three days for the division rivals and the tenth and final meeting of the season.
The Giants opened the scoring on a greasy goal, a scrum in front of Evanoff. The play went to video review by the officials. In the end, the replay showed Tristan Nielsen swatted it and the puck trickled past the goal-line. The goal for Nielsen was his 30th of the year, as he continued his career-best season.
Victoria would tie the game late in the first while on the power play. Brandon Culter made a heads-up play and nice pass to find Keanu Derungs who wired it home for his 15th of the season.
Thirteen seconds into the second period, the Royals would strike off a Vancouver turnover. Gary Haden took the puck in the middle and buried it past Trent Miner for the 2-1 lead.
For the second period in a row, the Royals struck early. Just 26 seconds into the third, another Vancouver turnover was jumped on by Haden who found Culter out front. Culter’s 17th of the year gave the Royals a 3-1 lead with lots of hockey left to play.
Midway through the third, the Giants would pushback. However, Evanoff was up to the task, including making a huge sprawling glove save to preserve the two-goal lead.
Late in the game, Vancouver would pull Miner for an extra attacker with three minutes left to play.
Victoria would take advantage, with Brayden Tracey clearing the puck all the way down and into the empty net. Tracey’s 20th of the year gave the home team a 4-1 lead with 2:25 left to play.
Victoria would hang on the earn a gutsy victory, concluding the three-game series.
Next up for Vancouver is a trip to Kamloops to face the division-leading Blazers on Wednesday night, in what should be definitely a game worth watching.
For the Royals, it is some rest and hopefully a chance to heal up before they travel to Portland for games next weekend.