The Victoria Royals (46-16-3-3, 98pts) scored 4 times in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and defeat the visiting Prince George Cougars 6-2 Friday night.
“You expect these kind of games,” said Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry,
“We haven’t had games were we’ve had to fight for your space and go into the third period tied…this is playoff hockey – and we weren’t disappointed.”
The Cougars held leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but could not hold back the Royals offense who out shot the visitors 45-27.
“We stayed with what we wanted to do, and got better,” added Lowry on his clubs ability to pull away in the final frame.
“We started skating, hunting pucks again, and managing the neutral zone.”
Alex Forsberg led the way against his former club, with 2 goals and an assist, and leads the club with 83 points.
“We knew that if we came out for 20 minutes, we’d come away with the win…” said Forsberg on the four goal third,
“They played us tough…their goalie played very well, we just found a way in the third.”
Victoria won their 9th in a row, and with points in 10 straight (9-0-1-0) now have a 4 point lead on the Rockets for 1st in the WHL, Kelowna has a game in hand and will entertain the Royals Wednesday.
Rookie Matthew Phillips chipped in a pair on the power play, and both Jack Walker and Tyler Soy had a goal and an assist each.
“What it came down to was the third period, just bearing down on some of our chances and that was the difference tonight.” Said Walker who burst in for a breakaway goal to give the club a 4-2 lead.
Victoria struck just :37 seconds later, giving them a 3 goal cushion.
It was a chippy and physical affair.
“It’s playoff hockey, the games are hard, they’re physical…” said Lowry,
“The physical part doesn’t bother us. We can play whatever style of game we have to play. Our assets are our speed and skill, and we’re not going to back away from playing a heavy game either.”
The Royals earned their 46th win of the year, and with 98 points are 2 shy of tying the franchise record of 100 points in a season, set 2 years ago.
Victoria has out shot their opposition in 15 straight games and hold a record of (13-1-1-0) in that span. The club won their franchise best 24th at home, and a franchise best 11 game home win streak.
Coleman Vollrath earned his 30th win of the season, while Ty Edmonds made 39 saves in the defeat.
Special teams was a factor as Victoria went 2 for 6 on the power play, Soy scored shorthanded, and a pair of goals were scored 4 on 4.
Prince George was 0 for 4 with the man advantage, and with the loss fall out of 3rd spot in the BC Division to 7th, the first Wild Card spot 2 back of Kamloops who beat Kelowna in overtime.
The Cougars got goals from Luke Harrison just :42 seconds into the first, and from Tate Olson in the middle frame. Prince George had their streak of points in two games snapped.
Soy’s 41st tally tied him with former Chilliwack Bruin Ryan Howse for most shorthanded goals in franchise history with 8.
The Royals lead the 8 game season series with a record of (4-2-0-1).
“It was a playoff game out there…it was hard hitting, good pace so I think we’re looking forward to Sunday.” Said Phillips who leads all rookies in goals and points.
The two clubs will meet again in Victoria Sunday at noon.
“This is potentially a playoff opponent too, so we’re definitely not going to take them lightly, and it’s definitely a game we can get up for too.” added Walker.
After Sunday’s rematch, Victoria will wrap up the regular season with a home and home with Everett next weekend.
– Marlon Martens
Prince George Cougars 2 at Victoria Royals 6 – Status: Final
Friday, March 11, 2016 – Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena – Victoria, BC
Prince George 1 1 0 – 2
Victoria 1 1 4 – 6
1, Prince George, Harrison 9 (McDonald, McAuley), 0:42.
2, Victoria, Forsberg 26 (Hannoun, Reddekopp), 12:50.
Penalties-Dosanjh Pg (roughing), 12:00; Walker Vic (roughing), 12:00; Carvalho Pg (high sticking), 18:45; McDonald Pg (slashing), 19:50.
3, Prince George, Olson 9 (Collins, Witala), 6:24.
4, Victoria, Phillips 35 (Soy, Forsberg), 13:06 (PP).
Penalties-Ruopp Pg (holding), 12:21; Fisher Vic (holding), 16:38; McAuley Pg (tripping), 19:34.
5, Victoria, Forsberg 27 (Jarratt), 2:29.
6, Victoria, Walker 32 (Fisher), 10:27.
7, Victoria, Phillips 36 (Hicketts, Walker), 11:04 (PP).
8, Victoria, Soy 41 13:28 (SH).
Penalties-Bobylev Vic (hooking), 5:28; Hannoun Vic (slashing), 8:00; Witala Pg (cross checking), 9:09; Reddekopp Vic (inter. on goaltender), 10:07; Olson Pg (hooking), 10:35; Hannoun Vic (high sticking), 12:35.
Shots on Goal-
Prince George 6-10-11-27.
Power Play Opportunities-
Prince George 0 / 4;
Victoria 2 / 6.
Prince George, Edmonds 21-15-2-1 (45 shots-39 saves).
Victoria, Vollrath 30-13-0-2 (27 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Kevin Bennett (29), Chris Schlenker (9).
Linesmen-Jeff MacAdams, Kirk Van Helvoirt (107).