The Victoria Royals season came to an end in dramatic fashion Tuesday night, as Thomas Soustal scored in overtime in Game 7, to lift the visiting Kelowna Rockets to a 3-2 victory.
“The game is about momentum, I thought we played another great game. The unfortunate thing is they got the last shot, the last bounce.” – Head Coach Dave Lowry
Kelowna advances to round 3 for a third consecutive year and will face Seattle who knocked out Everett in 5.
Victoria was 0.2 seconds away from advancing to a franchise first third round before Justin Kirkland scored his second of the night to force overtime.
“You’re disappointed, you feel for the guys. They’ve played extremely hard all year” said Lowry,
“…It was not the ending we were looking for and we felt we’ve had a great season as a group. Nobody expected us to be in this position – We were 0.2 seconds away from winning a game 7 in our building.”
The Royals had built up a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes on goals by Tyler Soy, and Alex Forsberg on the power play.
Victoria out shot Kelowna 13-6 in the first, and 10-5 in the second, dominating play.
“I really liked the way we played for 60 minutes, a couple mistakes and it cost us goals…” added Lowry.
The Rockets Kirkland bounced one in off of Royals Logan Fisher to cut the lead in half early in the third, before Kirkland fired home the tying goal with the goaltender pulled with less than a second to go in front of a shocked sell out crowd.
“This one will sting for a while…there’s a real bond between the players and the fans, and I know they’re extremely grateful for the support they’ve received all year.” Said Lowry.
Michael Herringer made 28 saves in his second consecutive game 7 to earn the win, while Coleman Vollrath stopped 22 in the loss.
Victoria graduates overagers Logan Fisher, Alex Forsberg and Coleman Vollrath.
“I’m extremely proud of my group, you can’t say enough of the leadership. They’ve done a tremendous job of managing the room inside, it’s evident in the way these guys come out and play every night.” According to Lowry.
Captain Joe Hicketts is signed by the Detroit Red Wings, and has a strong chance of turning pro next season.
“It’s gut wrenching,” said an emotional Captain Joe Hicketts,
“…what we learned from a Game 7 is invaluable…as disappointing as it is, we have to look back at the season and be proud of what we accomplished.”
The Royals were 1 for 3 on the power play, and shut down all 4 Rocket man advantages.
Victoria was eliminated last season in the second round by Kelowna in 5 games, and were seeking vengeance.
“We still want to be where Kelowna is, we were 0.2 seconds away from accomplishing that…we’ll sit back, look back and we’ll be a better team because of it.” Commented Lowry,
“We’ll be a better team through this experience whether we like it or not – we’ll be a better team.”
With an assist, Jack Walker (8g 8a) set the franchise record for most points in a post season with 16, passing Brandon Magee’s 15.
According to Shaw TV’s Andy Neal, “It was the first WHL game 7 in Victoria since ’89, a best of 9 series, a first winner-take-all game seven since ’83.”
It was another tightly contested affair as 6 of the 7 meetings were one goal games.
“It was unfortunate how it ended, but at the same time that’s how every game 7 seems to go – there’s a winner and a loser.” Said Vollrath.
“…Even though my junior career is over, it was an awesome game to play in.”
– Marlon Martens
Kelowna Rockets 3 (OT) at Victoria Royals 2 – Status: Final OT
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – Victoria, BC
Kelowna 0 0 2 1 – 3
Victoria 2 0 0 0 – 2
1, Victoria, Soy 7 (Dmytriw, Walker), 1:44.
2, Victoria, Forsberg 5 (Phillips, Hicketts), 10:31 (PP).
Penalties-Pachal Vic (tripping), 7:59; Southam Kel (elbowing), 9:51; Gagnon Vic (slashing), 19:10.
Penalties-Kirkland Kel (slashing), 1:42; Johansen Kel (cross checking), 6:23; Walker Vic (slashing), 6:23; Dmytriw Vic (slashing), 14:00; Dube Kel (interference), 15:23.
3, Kelowna, Kirkland 7 1:13.
4, Kelowna, Kirkland 8 (Foote), 19:59.
Penalties-Gagnon Vic (delay of game), 4:23.
5, Kelowna, Thurkauf 2 5:56.
Shots on Goal-
Power Play Opportunities-
Kelowna 0 / 4;
Victoria 1 / 3.
Kelowna, Herringer 8-6-0-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
Victoria, Vollrath 5-4-1-0 (25 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Steve Papp (17), Chris Schlenker (9).
Linesmen-Ron Dietterle (121), Bevan Mills (98).