© Copyright – 2018 – Victoria Sports News
The Victoria Royals hosted the Kelowna Rockets for game two of their two-game weekend set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday and won 4-3 in overtime, sending the 5,874 fans in attendance home in a spirited mood.
Asked what it is that brings out the best of the two teams, Coach Dan Price said, “Very competitive teams, very competitive players, they love to work hard and compete against each other and I think that brings out the best in each team.”
The Royals opened the scoring at 3:52 of the first period. It was an innocent looking play with the Royals on a bit of a cycle. Noah Gregor walked out of the corner to goaltender James Porter’s left – stick side – once in front, he slipped the puck far-side around Porter. Tanner Kaspick earned the only assist on the play.
With the rivalry and three-game set, it appeared that the refs were attempting to take control of the game early, calling two coincidental penalties in a row. The plan may have backfired when a Rocket forward seemed to skate into Griffen Outhouse on purpose, no penalty was called on him; however, Dante Hannoun was assessed a minor for cross-checking the offender. The Rockets scored on the ensuing powerplay.
Kole Lind one-timed a slap shot from Outhouse’s stick side. Outhouse was moving laterally to face the shooter, but it was too late. Assists went to Dillon Dube and Cal Foote. It was Lind’s 29th of the season.
“With these three games, they are huge. We are chasing them in the standings and it is a team that we could end up playing in the playoffs, so it is good to see how we match up here and it is nice to take two wins so far,” said Gregor.
At 13:18 defenceman Foote took a wrister from the left point, Outhouse never saw it coming. It was the 6’4” Tamp Bay Lightning 2017 draft pick’s 14th goal of the season; it fluttered through a crowd.
Kaspick earned a 10-minute misconduct penalty for not wearing a mouth guard, but he would come back with a vengeance.
Matthew Phillips, on three occasions, went around defenders, demonstrating thrilling stickhandling skills. It was like he was at practice deking pylons, but was denied repeatedly. Likewise, Kaspick was generating opportunities hitting Rockets hard and making space on the ice for himself and linemates.
At 17:44, with seemingly nothing doing, Gregor picked up the puck in his own end, skated to the Rocket’s blue line and saucered a tape-to-tape pass to Kaspick, who slipped the defence, then goaltender, putting the puck in far side for his 19th goal of the season. It was a well-earned goal.
The teams exchanged goals in the third with Connor Bruggen-Cate getting his 16th. Leif Mattsen earned the only assist on the play. The goal came at 8:22, to put the visitors up 3-2.
Six-foot-six-inch Brayden Chizen hit Igor Martynov hard into the boards from behind and was assessed a two-minute minor. On the powerplay, Gregor scored his second of the game and 20th of the season. Dante Hannoun and Matthew Phillips earned assists. With Phillips getting a point, he tied the season points record with Alex Forsberg at 91. He has collected 41 goals and 50 assists. Forsberg had 31 goals and 60 assists in 71 games. It was just Phillips’ 52nd game of the season.
And arguably the most worthy player on either team got the game-winner at 2:22 of overtime, Kaspick, slapped a one-timer from the top of the slot, finishing off a smart three-way passing play. Soy and Hannoun assisted. It came on the powerplay.
“He’s so competitive and he works so hard and has a will to win and the offence is a by-product of that,” shared Price.
“Anytime we get a 4 on 3 in overtime we want to take advantage,” said Kaspick. “We didn’t want to make any errors, just be patient. So we wanted to move that puck around until something opened up. Dante settled that puck down for me and put it right into my wheelhouse and I let that shot go and fortunately it beat the goalie on the left side.”
James Porter stopped 34 of 38 shots for Kelowna. Meanwhile, Outhouse faced 36, letting in three.
The powerplay for Kelowna went 1/1, while the Royals scored twice on six opportunities.
They play again Monday in Kelowna.