Jack Walker scored twice and Vladimir Bobylev had 3 assists as the Victoria Royals edged the visiting Spokane Chiefs 4-3 Saturday night to take a 2-0 best of seven playoff series lead.
Walker broke a 2-2 second period draw, and Tyler Soy (3rd) added insurance in the third, before Dominic Zwerger brought the Chiefs to within one with the goalie pulled.
“We found a way to get it done tonight,” said Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry,
“They’re going to be hard fought games, close games, one goal games. We have to make sure we continue to find a way.”
The Royals were without a pair of veteran defenseman, Joe Hicketts and Ryan Gagnon.
“We need different guys to step up, and as soon as we start relying on one or two guys we’re in trouble. We’ve had really good balance, good depth throughout, good contributions from everybody, and we look forward to continuing that.”
While there was no word on Hicketts absence, the club was still waiting to hear from the WHL on the length of suspension for Gagnon after receiving a charging major and game misconduct in Game 1.
Jordan Wharrie was inserted into the line up bringing 11 games of past playoff experience with the Everett Silvertips, while Brayden Pachal played his first WHL playoff game and had an assist. Rookie Scott Walford stepped up his game, and also helped out on the power play.
“I thought it was outstanding,” said Lowry on the younger defense coming through,
“When you have a 16 year old (Walford) as probably your best defenseman, your most physical, it bodes well moving forward…Pachal came into tonight and didn’t miss a beat.”
Spokane out shot Victoria 33-21, snapping the Royals stretch of 20 games in which they put more pucks on goal than the opposition.
Coleman Vollrath earned back to back wins, while Lasse Petersen took a second consecutive loss.
Victoria was 0 for 2 on the power play, while Spokane went 0 for 1.
Jacob Cardiff opened the scoring for the Chiefs, but Walker and Jared Dmytriw gave the Royals a 2-1 lead going into the second.
Hudson Elynuik tied the game at 2 early in the middle frame, for his 2nd of the post season.
The line of Walker, Soy (1g) and Bobylev connected again for 6 points, giving them a combined 12 in the two games.
“My linemates and I are clicking,” said Soy who had 46 goals to lead the club in the regular season, a Royals record.
“Dave (Lowry) has been instilling in us all season long to play with speed, and play as fast as we can. It’s something that we try to do every night.”
Victoria has now won 15 straight games, and 15 consecutive at home.
The Royals face the Chiefs in Spokane Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Chiefs are 5 over .500 at home (19-14-2-1), while the Royals have 24 road victories (24-10-2-0), and are riding a 7 game win streak off the Island.
“We’ve always had good game there,” said Lowry,
“The one challenge, and they use it to their advantage is, the benches are reversed. So you have a long change for two periods instead of one.”
Puck drop both nights at 7:05 on The Zone @ 91.3 fm.
– Marlon Martens
Spokane Chiefs 3 at Victoria Royals 4 – Status: Final
Saturday, March 26, 2016 – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – Victoria, BC
Spokane 1 1 1 – 3
Victoria 2 1 1 – 4
1, Spokane, Cardiff 1 (Kopeck, Fram), 9:56.
2, Victoria, Walker 1 (Bobylev, Ibragimov), 12:32. 3, Victoria, Dmytriw 1 (Fisher, Nagy), 14:08.
4, Spokane, Elynuik 2 (Ka. Yamamoto, Bechtold), 4:12.
5, Victoria, Walker 2 (Bobylev, Ibragimov), 17:27.
Penalties-Fram Spo (holding), 0:55; Wharrie Vic (tripping), 8:42; Helgesen Spo (hooking), 12:07; Bechtold Spo (roughing), 19:58; Forsberg Vic (roughing), 19:58.
6, Victoria, Soy 3 (Bobylev, Pachal), 6:31.
7, Spokane, Zwerger 1 (Ke. Yamamoto, Helgesen), 17:54.
Shots on Goal-
Power Play Opportunities-
Spokane 0 / 1;
Victoria 0 / 2.
Spokane, Petersen 0-2-0-0 (21 shots-17 saves).
Victoria, Vollrath 2-0-0-0 (33 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Reid Anderson (53), Mark Pearce (5).
Linesmen-Jeff MacAdams, Bevan Mills (98).