Royals Sweep Blazers, Take Top Spot In WHL
Tyler Soy had a 4 points, while Vladimir Bobylev scored twice for a 3 point night as the Victoria Royals (40-16-3-3, 86pts) doubled the visiting Kamloops Blazers 6-3 Saturday night in front of a sold out Pink in the Rink crowd.
Victoria moves into sole possession of first place in the WHL, leapfrogging Kelowna (85pts) who lost in Vancouver. The Rockets however, have two games in hand.
“I think it feels great…what we have to do, is keep things in perspective,” Said Head Coach Dave Lowry.
“Credit to the guys that go out and play each night – they’ve played the same way from Day 1. They believe in what we’re doing here. It’s evident in the way that they play, the way they look after each other. This is an unbelievable team, but the one thing is – they really care and respect each other.”
The Royals swept the Blazers in the two game set after winning 4-1 Friday night, and now have points in 4 straight (3-0-1-0), riding a 3 game win streak.
“It’s a great feeling…” Said Soy on taking top spot in the league.
“When people are counting you out at the start of the year and you come up and win games you’re not supposed to win, and proving people wrong – it’s a good feeling…”
Soy had a goal (34th) and three assists, leading the club in goals.
Victoria earned their 40th win of the season, and a franchise high 9th consecutive home win. The Royals tie the clubs record for most home wins in a season with 22.
“In order for us to be successful we’re going to have to play a good team game, we’re going to have to get scoring throughout our line up, our special teams were going to have to be good, and our goaltending was going to have to be exceptional.” Said Lowry on the message from Day 1 to be successful.
Victoria never trailed, leading 2-1 after 20 minutes and 3-2 after 40. The Royals outscored the Blazers 3-1 in the third, while playing 6 games in 8 nights.
“We know that we have a week off, so what we had to do is push ourselves and mentally challenge ourselves to get over this hump – this is what happens when you have a strong group, and really good leadership.” mentioned Lowry,
“They challenge each other, to push each other – and get rewarded.”
Coleman Vollrath earned the win, making 30 saves, while Lantzville product Dylan Ferguson allowed 6 goals on 41 Royal shots.
Victoria was 2 for 5 on the power play, while stopping 5 of 6 visitor man advantages.
Bobylev scored both of his goals in the first period, the first just :27 seconds in. Kamloops captain Matt Needham sandwiched his goal in between.
Tyler Soy deked out Dylan Ferguson on a short handed breakaway in the second period to give the club a two goal lead, however with just 4.9 seconds left in the middle frame, Spencer Bast struck to bring the visitors within one.
Jack Walker got the home team up by a pair 4-2 on the power play early in the third, but just 1:17 later, former Royal forward Matthew Campese tapped in a rebound to bring the Blazers again to within one 4-3.
Dante Hannoun responded just :21 seconds later, converting a great feed from Alex Forsberg to restore the 2 goal lead.
“I really liked our resiliency…even after we scored a goal, we gave up one right back and then we went out, and took over.” Said Lowry
Matthew Phillips scored on the power play with less than a minute in regulation to make it 6-3, recording his 32nd, tying the franchise record for goals by a rookie with Oscar Moller.
The line of Bobylev (2g 1a), Soy (1g 3a), and Walker (1g 1a) combined for 9 points. They also earned all 3 stars of the game, in respective order.
Captain Joe Hicketts chipped in with a pair of assists, playing against his hometown team.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last couple weeks…” said Hicketts,
“And to see it pay off in that sense…it’s going to be important that we keep playing the way are.”
Victoria kicks off a 4 game road trip Friday night in Calgary.
– Marlon Martens
Kamloops Blazers 3 at Victoria Royals 6 – Status: Final
Saturday, February 20, 2016 – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – Victoria, BC
Kamloops 1 1 1 – 3
Victoria 2 1 3 – 6
1, Victoria, Bobylev 20 (Ibragimov, Soy), 0:27.
2, Kamloops, Needham 17 (Sideroff, Davidson), 8:32 (PP).
3, Victoria, Bobylev 21 (Soy, Walford), 14:58.
Penalties-Benjafield Kam (tripping), 1:10; Soy Vic (slashing), 7:49; Ibragimov Vic (interference), 7:57.
4, Victoria, Soy 34 6:42 (SH).
5, Kamloops, Bast 3 (Smejkal), 19:55.
Penalties-Pachal Vic (tripping), 2:23; Walker Vic (cross checking), 4:49; Campese Kam (hooking), 8:02; Smejkal Kam (cross checking), 17:26.
6, Victoria, Walker 26 (Hicketts, Bobylev), 2:40 (PP).
7, Kamloops, Campese 8 (Bast, Davidson), 3:57.
8, Victoria, Hannoun 23 (Forsberg, Hicketts), 4:18.
9, Victoria, Phillips 32 (Walker, Soy), 19:24 (PP).
Penalties-Vala Kam (slashing), 2:09; Bobylev Vic (tripping, unsportsmanlike cnd.), 9:56; Vala Kam (tripping), 19:03.
Shots on Goal-
Power Play Opportunities-
Kamloops 1 / 6;
Victoria 2 / 5.
Kamloops, Ferguson 3-10-0-0 (41 shots-35 saves).
Victoria, Vollrath 26-13-0-2 (33 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Reid Anderson (53), Ryan Benbow (62).
Linesmen-Riley Friesen (76), Kirk Van Helvoirt (107).