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Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Winning both games of a back-to-back set in hockey is a difficult task, especially at home. The Royals won Game 1 Friday, by the score of 5-2 – a game that featured much in the way of physical play. Saturday, the Royals set about the difficult task of winning again. They outplayed The Tri-City Americans but lost 2-1 in the shootout. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

The game had all the trappings of a playoff game, sound defense, intensity; strong 3-on-2 rushes both ways and excellent goaltending.

“It really did feel like a playoff game,” said Coach Dan Price. “We were just talking about that in the room in how many chances we had, especially in the third period and overtime with the powerplay, hitting the knob of their goaltender’s stick a couple of times, hit a couple of posts, a couple almost trickled across the line. So that was the message in the room, be proud of that effort, sometimes the puck doesn’t find that extra inch to cross the line.”

Parker AuCoin put the Americans on the scoresheet first with a powerplay goal at 10:23. Mitchell Prowse was off for tripping.

AuCoin received a pass to Griffen Outhouse’s blocker side, catching the goaltender moving laterally across the crease and he buried the puck high. Kyle Olson fed him the cross-slot pass on the rush. Aaron Hyman earned the second assist on AuCoin’s 26th goal of the season.

It was the St. Albert, AB native’s 51st point in 48 games played this season. He long eclipsed his 40 point total from last year’s 61 games.

At 13:22 Phillip Schultz received a pass in the neutral zone and broke in, shooting the puck past Beck Warm, going five-hole. It was the Dane’s eighth goal of the season. Sean Gulka and Jameson Murray earned assists on the play.

Kody Mcdonald vs Dom Schmiemann. It was a close match, with McDonald earning the take down. Credit: Christopher Kelsall

Outhouse was particularly sharp on a couple of the Americans’ rushes, stopping Tri-City forwards on a few odd-man breaks that appeared to be very good opportunities. He earned first star honours for his efforts.

There was no scoring during the second period, but plenty of hits and a fight between Kody McDonald and Dom Schmiemann. Schmiemann had a size advantage standing 6’4” and 200 pounds. McDonald is no slouch at 6’1” 190 and earned the takedown.

“Looking across the ice there, they are a good team and a playoff team,” said Scott Walford. “Matching up against them last year in the playoffs, it definitely felt like a playoff game tonight.”

“It was definitely a playoff atmosphere out there. Playoff games go by inches, could go one way or the other. We both had chances. Pucks were bouncing, but it is definitely fun hockey,” said Tanner Sidaway, who earned second-star honours for his play

During the third period, the Royals stepped up the play, outshooting the Americans 9-7. They outshot them in each period, 8-6 during the defensive first and 14-10 during the second.

Beck Warm stopped 33 of 34 shots fired his way, while Outhouse was good for 23 saves on the night, however, was scored on twice in the shootout.

D-Jay Jerome scored a beauty in the shootout, but both Igor Martynov and Kody McDonald were stymied, while Nolan Yaremko and Kyle Olson, who was skating miles, shot glove-side, low on Outhouse for the win.

The Royals will host the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday and Wednesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre for undoubtedly more playoff-like hockey.