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Metaphor for the two-game set, Royals were chasing the Rockets all weekend. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Victoria Royals hosted the Kelowna Rockets in Game 2 of their two-game set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday night and lost by the score of 5-1. The defeat comes after an 8-2 drubbing by the Rockets who first entered the building on Friday, with a dismal record of just 2-9.

The Rockets were determined to change the direction they were heading, but unfortunately, at the same time, the Royals happened to have a rough weekend and played without their star goalie Griffen Outhouse. For the 16-year-old netminder, Brock Gould, who played in Outhouse’s place, the losses were big enough that veteran defenceman Scott Walford brought in some of his leadership skill to support him; he took the loss as a team failure.

“We have a nickname for him in the dressing room, we call him Brockstar. Yeah, we didn’t play that well in front of him,” said Walford. “The score was not indicative of how he played as we missed some assignments, but he is going to be a really good goalie in this league. He consistently improved through the weekend. There are some goals that as a team we want back. We don’t want him to think that they were on him. Those goals were on us.”

Coach Dan Price agreed. “I thought he played well both games also. His confidence did grow. He was big, was positioned at the top of his crease, controlled his rebounds quite well and there were some lapses in front of him unfo, unfortunately, resulted in the goals against, but it was not on him, that’s for sure.”

The Rockets opened the scoring on Saturday as Nolan Foote – who scored twice Friday – buried his seventh of the season at 4:02 of the first period.

Libor Zabransky wrists one on net from the point. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

On their second powerplay of the game, the Royals did everything but score. They tossed the puck around with more confidence, drove the net, shot from the point, tried a couple of greasy opportunities and even had two slot-area redirections that were Sedin style; no go.

You have to be lucky to be good and good to be lucky. Although the Royals improved over the weekend, they weren’t good enough to be lucky.

After another long sequence in the Rocket’s end, where every player seemed to have a scoring opportunity, Kaid Oliver took his second shot on the play into a gaping net as goaltender Roman Basran was sprawled in his crease. The goal was scored at 15:04. Matthew Smith and Igor Martynov earned assists on the play. It was all she wrote, as they say.

Fifty-three second later, Connor Bruggen slid a shot short side on a laterally-moving Gould.

The Royals had trouble getting out of their own end during the second period. They also had trouble setting up in the Rockets end when they did break out – no cycle down low, no odd-man rushes, just outside shots. The Rockets were playing a smart defensive game.

Ted Brennan scored at 13:35; it was the first of the season for the 18-year-old Victoria native. He was a third-round draft pick in 2015 by the Rockets’ organization.

Liam Kindree scored at 8:20, it was a screened shot – moments before, Gould had made several saves in a quick sequence and followed that up with a leg pad save on an odd-man rush.

The 4,557 fans celebrating 80s night, started for the exits after the Royals gave up an empty netter with 1:58 remaining in the game. Ethan Ernst scored his first of the season on the play.

The Royals have a week off to practice and get ready for the Brand Wheat Kings.

Asked what they will work on Price said, “Every area of the game. We want to work on breakouts, entries, special teams and our defensive game.”

About the rough weekend, Walford said, “its October. It’s early and we are still coming together as a team. Obviously, we didn’t show up the way we wanted to, but its hockey. They had our number this weekend. So now we have a big week of practice to make ourselves better for next Saturday.”

Asked about Outhouse’s status Price said, “He is good to go. He just needed some rest and down time.”

The Royals outshot the Rockets 30-31. The Royals were 0/3 on the man-advantage while the Rockets went 0/2.

The next game happens Saturday, October 27 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre against the Brandon Wheat Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm.

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