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Current Victoria Royals players are too young to feel any seething hatred toward Prince George since owner Richard Brodsky high-tailed it out of town with the Victoria Cougars in 1994, after just two years of ownership. But fans over the age of 40 appreciate it every time the Royals roll into the blue collar town and lay a beating on their northern rivals.
Brodsky, a one-time part owner of the Saskatoon Blades, apparently cut corners with the Cougars, which resulted in a drop in fan attendance, by a city that supported the Cougars and future NHL players like Curt Fraser, Grant Fuhr, Greg Adams and the Courtnall brothers, to name a few.
Apparently, the same trick backfired in Prince George as well and with a severe drop in attendance, Brodsky was faced with selling the team to local businessman Greg Pocock and a group of investors in 2014. The team that at one-time drew over 5,800 fans-per-game, dropped to a league-worst average of 1,693 under Brodsky.
Sunday, a robust 4,173 Cougar fans hit the CN Centre for a 2:00 pm matinee, but the Royals conjured up a character-building come-from-behind overtime victory, winning by the score of 5-4.
The Cougars scored three consecutive goals before the Royals got on the board. Josh Maser opened the scoring at 13:41 of the first period, for his first of three on the night; his 10th, 11th and 12th of the season.
At 4:06 of the third, Matthew Phillips bumped his mini-slump with his 22nd goal of the season on goaltender Taylor Gauthier, to queue the comeback. Jared Freadrich scored two-in-a-row, including a powerplay marker. Dino Kambeitz scored his sixth at 15:12.
In overtime, it was Phillips, who opened the scoring, closed it as well with a marker at 1:55, Tyler Soy and Griffen Outhouse assisting.
Prince George outshot Victoria 32-29, while the powerplays went 1/7 for Victoria and 3/4 for Prince George.
The Royals and Cougars go at it again Tuesday night at the CN Centre, before heading to Vancouver for a game and then home on Dec 16, for the second game of their home-and-home set against Vancouver. Perhaps Sunday’s win conjured up old ghosts for Prince George, one named Brodsky, if he cares; probably not.
Extras: Matthew Phillips did not get invited to training camp for Team Canada to play in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships. He captains the Royals, leads the team in goals, assists, points and sits seventh in league points with 50. The league leader is Finnish player Alexi Heponiemi. Currently, Phillips would be sitting in third place and second place in the points race in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League respectively. In the QMJHL only one Canadian-born player has more points than Phillips. He has attended two Calgary Flames rookie camps.