© Copyright – 2016- Victoria Sports News
Home cooking and a Matthew Phillips natural hat-trick couldn’t secure the Victoria Royals a much-needed bounce back win Wednesday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in front of 4,073 loyal Royal fans.
The Royals returned home from a short road trip having lost to the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 on Friday, Nov. 26 and the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0 the following night. They were looking for a response against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, who sport a 12-9-3-0 record entering Wednesday’s action.
During the first period, the Royals’ high octane offense got down to business with four odd-man rushes, three near or partial break-a-ways that were led by Regan Nagy and Jack Walker, who were all over the ice, but goaltender Jordan Papirny was stonewalling the Royals including Nagy, Price, Phillips and Walker on glorious point-blank opportunities.
Reid Duke, who earned three points on the night, opened the scoring with 3:23 remaining in the first period with his 16th goal of the season. The goal was assisted by Ty Lewis and Tanner Kaspik. Twenty-seven seconds later the Wheat Kings, who spent the better part of the first period on their heels, scored again, this time it was Brandon native Kaspik scoring from Duke and Kale Claque on the powerplay.
Kaspik is one of 14 Wheat Kings that are from Manitoba and one of six from Brandon.
Having seen enough, Matthew Phillips went directly to his office – the front of the net – after Dante Hannoun won the offensive zone faceoff. Hannoun drew back to Jack Walker who fed Phillips and he made no mistake on the play, burying the puck top-right corner over the glove hand of Papirny at 17:25.
The period ended 2-1 and the shot clock reading 14-11, Wheat Kings.
As much as the first period was all Royals, the middle frame was all Wheat Kings. The Royals spent the majority of the period in their own end. Although the shots were even during the second period, the stat was not indicative of the play.
Asked about the second period Phillips said, “yeah we had a let-down in the second period. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen if we want to win games.”
The Wheat Kings were clearing their own end early and often preventing any sort of sustained Royal attack. The Wheat Kings ended up potting their third at 11:24. Lewis scored his 15th of the season from Duke, for his third point on the night. Stelio Matheos was credited with the second assist.
Shots were 25-22 Wheat Kings after two.
Victoria came out for the third period with a royal vengeance skating miles and keeping the puck in the Wheat Kings’ end for sustained stretches. It appeared that the bounce-back game was on.
Phillips wasted no time in starting the potential comeback by scoring at 2:02 with his 18th goal of the season, it was a classic Phillips goal, where he picked the puck up at the side of the net, faked the go around and came back to face a wide open net with Papirny going the other way, Phillips made no mistake, score 3-2.
With 6:15 remaining in the game, Phillips started a play by firing the puck at the net from near the blue line, it was redirected to the corner by Papirny. Hannoun retrieved the puck and got it to Phillips who was near his office where he let go a wrister to tie the game at 3-3. On the play, Phillips scored his first hat-trick of the season and team-leading 19th goal to tie the score 3-3.
The Royals had all the momentum, but Brayden Pachal, while trying to clear the puck around the back of his own net, hit the net, the puck skittered in front of Dylan Myskiw to Zack Russell, who slid the puck past the 17-year-old goalie to win the game with 3:28 remaining.
“It was an unfortunate play. Pachal was clearing the puck and it was unfortunate that the puck hit the net. Ninety times out of 100, he makes that play. We can’t pin the loss on that one play,” said Coach Dave Lowry.
“I think that one play wasn’t where we lost the game. We could have played a complete 60 minutes,” shared Phillips.
Dave Lowry pulled Myskiw in favour of the extra attacker with less than a minute remaining. The Royals iced the puck and Myskiw was back in the net.
Royals’ took a timeout with 26.7 seconds remaining, with the subsequent faceoff in their own end, which meant the Royals were not going to score.
Phillips, Hannoun and Peckford combined for seven points. The Royals went 1/7 on the powerplay, while the Wheat Kings went 1/3. Final shots were 33-32, Brandon.
Asked about the good effort from the second line Lowry said, “chances are one thing, bearing down is another. The point is, these guys have to find a way to score.”
The Royals now head out on a brutal, five game road trip played over nine nights that will see them bus from Prince George to Spokane in one go. However, the Wheat Kings played in Saskatoon Monday, went home for the day and turned around and drove 22 straight hours to get to the coast, using two drivers.
The Royals next play Friday in Prince George, then wrap up the road swing Saturday, December 10th in Tri-Cities.
The Royals play their next home game December 13th when they host the Portland Winterhawks.