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The Victoria Royals (39-26-4-2) hosted the Western Conference champion Everett Silvertips (46-20-2-3) Saturday for what was the final game of the regular season for both teams. It was a meaningless game, but the 8-1 loss at home in front of a sellout crowd of 7,006 will sting any time of year.
Asked about the game being meaningless and whether that came into play resulting in the lopsided score Coach Dan Price said, “I don’t think so. I thought the effort was there, the intention was there. The score line wasn’t in our favour and it wasn’t in our favour early and that changes the dynamic of the game of course. But I thought the preparation and the intention early was there.”
The teams played Friday in Everett with Everett prevailing by the score of 3-2.
The Silvertips scored three goals during both the first and second periods and twice more during the third. They were led by Patrick Bajkov, who scored a hat-trick and picked up an assist. The Nanaimo native and undrafted Florida Panthers signee scored the three goals by 19:26 of the second period.
The Pas, MB product, Bryce Kindopp and Connor Dewar of Lloydminster, AB also scored a pair each.
Kindopp opened the scoring at 4:48 on a scrambled play where nine players were around the Royals crease. With Dean McNabb sprawled on the ice, Kindopp managed to put the puck through a forest of legs for his 23rd of the season. Connor Dewar and Matt Fonteyne assisted on the goal.
With Noah Gregor in the box for elbowing, Bajkov buried a wrist shot, low, blocker-side on McNabb. From the top of the slot, he toe-dragged the puck and fired it 18 inches off the ice. The goal came during a prolonged stretch in the Royals’ end.
Fonteyne ended up getting five points, scoring once and setting up four others.
Matthew Phillips, held off the scoresheet Friday scored the only Royals goal Saturday. It was assisted by Gregor and Dante Hannoun.
“Obviously not ideal, but we moved on,” said Phillips. “It’s never fun losing like that, but they came out with a really good effort. We need to learn from that and more importantly move on.”
The Silvertips took 33 shots on McNabb, while Carter Hart faced 31.
The Royals powerplay went 1/5, while the Silvertips capitalized on three of their six opportunities.
Friday night, the Royals clinched home-ice advantage during the WHL playoffs. They will face the Vancouver Giants in round 1 starting on Friday, March 23rd at 7:05 pm and will play again the next night with the same start time at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The teams face each other the following Tuesday and Wednesday in Langley.
Carter Hart, arguably the best goaltender in the Western Hockey League and perhaps the combined three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League was outstanding. He played for Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships that won the gold medal.
Three of the Royals played their final WHL game Saturday in Tyler Soy and Chaz Reddekopp who played their entire Major Junior careers with the Royals as well as Kade Jensen. The Royals organization recognized them as the three stars.