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Tanner Kaspick. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Victoria Royals (35-21-3-2) hosted the Portland Winterhawks (35-20-1-3) for game one of their two-game weekend set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Friday night. The Winterhawks prevailed by the score of 2-1 in a well-played, tight-checking game.

“It was a really good game that was well played with both teams really going for it,” said Coach Dan Price after the game. “Lot of credit to Portland, they played well all game long. They did a good job creating speed on the rush attack. They were really good in their end and made it very tough for us to get to their net.”

The first period saw several good hits by the Royals, but Portland had a slight edge in zone time, as well as the only powerplay of the period. Defenceman Matthew Smith was called for Delay of Game at 10:54 for sending the puck over the glass in his own end.

The Royals killed off four consecutive penalties during the first half of the game.

At 13:43 of the second period the Winterhawks opened the scoring when Alex Overhardt got his 14th of the season. Cody Glass and 19-year-old Victoria-born player Brendan De Jong assisted. The goal came shortly after two minutes of four-on-four play. The Winterhawks thought that they had a goal a few minutes earlier, but coincidental penalties were being assessed and the apparent goal was called off.

At 18:44, Kieffer Bellows with his 30th of the season, scored from the slot with a hard wrist shot upstairs over Griffen Outhouse’s right shoulder. The goal came directly after a lethal-looking foray in the Winterhawks’ zone where Dante Hannoun, Tyler Soy and Matthew Phillips were buzzing and had several good scoring opportunities. Ryan Hughes and Conor MacEachern earned assists on Bellows’ goal.

The Royals got on the powerplay with 2:15 remaining in the game. Coach Dan Price put Noah Gregor out with Phillips, Hannoun, Soy and pulled goaltender Outhouse. After a tidy passing play, Gregor received a pass from Phillips, turned and lazered a shot into the back of the net, top right corner, to break Shane Farkas’s shutout bid.

The play gave Phillips his 100th point this season and continued his team record streak to 22 consecutive games with a point. The powerplay goal came with 1:50 left in regulation time.

The Royals kept Outhouse out of the net and pressed, but were unable to tie the game up.

Shots were 36-20 for Portland, while the powerplays went 0/4 for Portland and ¼ for Victoria.

The teams suit up again at 7:05 pm Saturday for the sold-out Pink in the Rink night.

“It was a really good game, with two really good teams going at it,” Shared Phillips. “I think we battled. Even when pucks weren’t going our way, we kept working, but they are a really good team over there. So it was a good game.”

EXTRAS: Royals captain Matthew Phillips entered the game on a team-record 21-game point streak. With 100 points on the season (44g and 56a) he became the first Royals player to hit triple digits, all-time and second in franchise history including when the team was in Chilliwack. Brandon Magee holds the franchise record of 101 points.

The Royals powerplay has been successful and is currently the league’s best at 74 goals.  They have recorded at least 74 powerplay goals in each of the previous three seasons with 74 in 2016-2017 and team-record 75 in 2015-2016. The all-time franchise record is 83 set by the Bruins in 2010-2011.

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