The Victoria Royals waited until the final period to lock away the win versus the Red Deer Rebels.
Victoria scored all three of their goals in the third period, unanswered by the Rebels.
Phillip Schultz scored a pair, while Kaid Oliver notched the other goal.
While the Royals were happy for a victory, they were disappointed by their first two periods.
“We didn’t put in the effort in the first 40 minutes and that’s unacceptable,” said Schultz. “It can’t happen. We can’t expect to make comebacks. We have two incredible goalies but we can’t rely on them to keep us in the game all the time. So we need better starts.”
“The first two periods were unacceptable,” said Victoria Head Coach Dan Price. “And that’s no disrespect to Red Deer. They worked very hard. They’re very well prepared, fast physical, they earned everything they had. But on the flip side of it, we weren’t. And we don’t accept that at any time, especially in front of our home fans.”
“To be honest, the coaches really stepped out of it in the second intermission,” said Price on any changes going into the third. “We did make a few adjustments, but it was up to the players to decide if they wanted to do it or not. They were either going to make it happen or they weren’t. That is positive, that they did rally. It shows a lot of maturity in the fact that they got it done.”
“But we were in a vulnerable position,” added Price. “Without [Adam] Evanoff playing well, and without Schultz moving back up to forward, creating a spark for us, it might have gone the other way. So it’s just not acceptable.”
Victoria was backstopped by another solid effort by Adam Evanoff. The native of Penticton, BC is becoming a proven workhorse, as he played in his 12th straight while Shane Farkas battles an injury.
The former Moose Jaw Warrior was more familiar with the eastern conference Rebels. “I’ve played against them a lot in my career,” said Evanoff. “I know they’re a hard-working team, going to be in your face all game. Credit to them, they’re a young team and they give us a lot of trouble because they worked hard.”
The opening frame was scoreless, as both teams familiarized themselves with an opponent they don’t see often. The Rebels carried most of the play, testing Evanoff often. The first period shots favoured the visitors, 10 to 7.
In the second period, Royals’ forward Tarun Fizer went awkward into the boards after some contact and looked to be favouring his leg. He was helped off the ice and headed to the dressing room. He would not return to the game.
The game’s first goal came on a sloppy play during a Rebels man-advantage. A Red Deer pass was knocked down in front of the crease, and Evanoff could not cover. The puck was jammed in by Ben King for the 1-0 lead at 14:55 of the second.
The goal by King would be it for the scoring in the period, with period shots 15 to 9 in favour of Red Deer.
In the third, Victoria tied the game up on a nice play. Schultz carried in and went around the Red Deer defenceman and tucked the puck past Ethan Anders at 10:58.
Schultz would strike again, as Gary Haden made a nice pass from behind the net to find the Royals’ captain wide open. The goal at 15:36 was the 10th of the season for Schultz.
Victoria would add another on a broken play in the Rebels’ end. Oliver was in the right spot to bury the puck into a wide-open net for the 3-1 lead at 17:36.
Victoria would hang on for their fourth straight win.
Evanoff on his team’s win versus the Rebels, “The first two periods weren’t good enough. We knew that. So we just try to put that behind us, just play a good third. Fortunately, it worked out.”
With the loss, Red Deer now heads to Langley to play the Vancouver Giants on Wednesday. The Royals travel over to face the Giants for Friday night.