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Celebrating Braydon Buziak’s goal. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips may be the best under-20 goaltender in North America, perhaps the world. He certainly played at that level in Buffalo during the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships to win the gold medal. In Victoria, there was another goaltender who should be in the same conversation in Griffen Outhouse. He showcased his brilliance with a shutout win Friday over those same Silvertips.

He possesses cat-like reflexes, impeccable lateral movement, superb positioning and precise timing. Friday, he absolutely stonewalled a determined Silvertips players, who fired 38 shots at him, some point-blank and nothing; there was no beating Outhouse. He went on to tie the all-time franchise record for shutouts with Lucas Gore at 10. Outhouse achieved the feat in 125 games, while Gore took 141 to amass the total.

“Congratulations to Carter Hart and the rest of Team Canada for their gold medal win today,” shared Outhouse.

Based on his play Friday night, it could have been him.

The Victoria Royals (21-15-3-1) took on the Silvertips (23-14-1-1) at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. It was a brief stop at home before heading out on the road again. They won 5-0 with a combination of new and veteran players contributing.

The first period ended 0-0. The first half of the period saw the Silvertips come out dominating, racking up a 10-shot lead, however, Outhouse, as usual, was outstanding. The Royals came on during the latter stages of the first but were thwarted by the strong goaltending of Dustin Wolf.

Dustin Wolf making a second period save. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Silvertips had the only powerplay of the period.

The Matthew Phillips, Tyler Soy and Dante Hannoun line failed to capitalize on several excellent scoring opportunities – they were buzzing the Silvertips’ zone.

During the second period, the Royals failed to win key offensive zone faceoffs and could not create a sustained offensive push. The Silvertips defence was retrieving shoot-ins and clearing the zone repeatedly.

“Yes, that is something that we have to improve, our team faceoffs,” Said Coach Dan Price.

Finally, against the play, new acquisition Braydon Buziak scored his first goal as a Royal at 16:05 of the second. Kaid Oliver and Scott Walford picked up assists on the goal. It was Buziak’s third of the season, which was scored on a goal-mouth scramble. The North Battleford, SK centre was acquired from the Regina in December.

The teams skated to the dressing rooms with the score 1-0 for the Royals.

At 17 seconds of the third period, the new guys were at it again, this time Jeff de Witt, who was acquired from the Kootenay Ice in December, scored from Buziak and Oliver, catching Wolf off guard. It was de Witt’s second as a Royals player.

At 7:51, fan favourite Hannoun capitalized on a slick passing play between Soy and Phillips. Phillips was levelled in front of the goal. As usual, he made the Silvertips pay, by scoring one of his own at 9:37, from his office. It was his 29th of the season. Chaz Reddekopp and Hannoun assisted.

Phillips is tied for fifth in league scoring and sits in seventh in league points. He leads the Royals in both categories.

Against the play, Andrei Grishakov scored his first as a Royal in his first game. It was his 17th of the season. He roofed it top right corner over Wolf’s left shoulder. Dino Kambeitz and Tarun Fizer assisted. The goal came moments after Patrick Bajkov missed on two glorious opportunities, including firing the puck point blank and being stymied by Outhouse.

Grishakov hails from Chelyabinsk, Russia and was picked up in a trade with the Calgary Hitmen.

Matthew Phillips scored his team-leading 29th Friday. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Royals’ forward Igor Martynov played in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo for Belarus and is not back in the lineup.

The Royals, who just returned from a two-game road trip, will travel to Kamloops Saturday and to Everett Sunday; three games in 2.5 days. Asked if he thinks Hart will be in the lineup, Price said, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, “They should rest him if they know what’s good for him. He just played in the World Juniors.”

The powerplays went 0/3 and 0/2 for Everett and Victoria respectively. Shots were 38-29 for Everett.

EXTRAS: President and General Manager Cam Hope has been busy lately, wheeling and dealing to bolster the Royals line-up before the January 10th trade deadline. Hope traded for unsigned prospect Hunter Strand, a third round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, and a sixth and 10th round pick in the 2018 draft from the Prince Albert Raiders for overage forward Regan Nagy. He then swung a second deal with the Raiders Thursday that saw them acquire winger D-Jay Jerome for defenceman Jeremy Masella. Again on Thursday, Hope added Russian-born import forward Andrei Grishakov from the Calgary Hitmen for a 2019 third round draft pick.

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