Dante Hannoun feathering a seeing-eye pass. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

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The Victoria Royals hosted the Vancouver Giants for game one of two taking place this weekend at Save on Foods Memorial Centre. It was a match between two of the top Western Hockey League teams. The Royals entered the game with a 6-0-0 record, while the Giants are 7-1-0 and have won five straight, however, it was a first game back home for the Royals – typically a tough game to win.

Kaid Oliver opened the scoring at 12:13, shortly after Dino Kambeitz thrilled the 4,963 fans, but was robbed by goaltender David Tendeck on a one-timer from the deep slot. Dante Hannoun had fed him a tape-to-tape pass on the fly – it was a 2-on-1 opportunity. The play had goal written all over it. Less than a minute later – while on the powerplay – Kaid Oliver stuffed a greaser under the pads of Tendeck from inside the blue paint. The goal was reviewed but stood.

“Vancouver is a tough team. Both teams played very well for the entire game,” said Coach Dan Price. “We can clean up a few things on our end and I am sure they are going to be even better tomorrow, so we look forward to a challenging game against them.”

At 18:52, with both teams down a man, James Malm – playing for his hometown Giants (Langley) – received a break-a-way pass at centre from Davis Koch and was off to the races. Malm went top left corner on Outhouse – stick side. The teams skated to the dressing rooms tied 1-1.

The Royals, with the fourth best powerplay in the WHL, scored on their first powerplay of the game, and then were stymied for the next three. Shortly after their third powerplay opportunity ended, Brandon Cutler scored his third goal of the season on an odd-man rush with D-Jay Jerome and Kaid Oliver assisting at 13:02.

Owen Hardy had taken consecutive penalties at 6:34 and 9:57 for tripping and delay-of-game.

With Tarun Fizer in the box for hooking, the Giants’ powerplay went to work. Unable to set up, they broke in on a couple of rushes. During the second rush, Milos Roman skated into the slot and received a pass from Koch and made no mistake, scoring again on Outhouse’s stick side. Former Royals player Jared Dmytriw earned the second assist on the play. He then took a tripping penalty, but the score remained 2-2.

The teams had played a stingy third period with few close-in scoring chances produced. Victoria managed just four shots all period.

Davis Koch breaks in on a 2-on-1. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The teams went into overtime, it appeared that neither team was going to score, then with 25 seconds remaining, Oliver skated in alone on Tendeck, the puck bounced off his pads and Oliver went to the backhand to get the game-winner.

Asked about some rusty play when breaking out of their own end Oliver said, “There were some plays where the passes went into the skates, but I think that is on all of us. We will clean that up.”

Price agreed, “Yes, for the first few minutes we were a little rusty and will have to clean that up for the next game.”

The teams have a short turnaround time as the puck drops at 3:05 pm Sunday for game two. The Royals are home for six games.

The powerplays went 1/5 for the Royals and 1/2 for the Giants.

Outhouse earned the win and first star honours with a 26-save performance, some of them point blank. Tendeck played well, but took the loss for the Giants stopping 21 of 23.