© Copyright – 2016 – Victoria Sports News
Blame it on a broken gate at the Royals’ bench; with apologies to those who find Trudeau’s Nannygate and Nixon’s Watergate more important, the Royals had their own scandal, which can be dubbed gate-gate.
The Royals started game five of the 2016 Western Hockey League play-offs against the Spokane Chiefs with an edge; they had the momentum, out-skating and out-shooting the Chiefs early, but play was stopped due to a malfunctioning gate at the Royals’ bench at the five minute mark. Play didn’t resume for seven minutes. When the ref dropped the puck to start play again, the Chiefs took the opportunity to gain some momentum.
Asked about the momentum change due to the gate repair Coach Dave Lowry said, “We did have good momentum before that. The shots were 6-1 for us.”
The Chiefs scored the first two goals of the game. At the 7:18 mark Kailer Yamamoto opened the scoring, 10 minutes later Curtis Miske added a second.
One could argue that Chiefs’ goalie Lasse Petersen put up a gate of his own and firmly closed it as the Royals out-played the Chiefs for much of the game, but were stone-walled by Petersen and the defense playing in front of him who blocked at least 18 shots. The Royals ended up out-shooting the Chiefs 45-23.
“He is the best goalie in the league,” said Lowry.
The Royals were once again without their leader and Captain, Joe Hicketts.
Six foot four, 200-pound Curtis Miske was trying to intimidate 5′ 6” 137-pound Matthew Phillips behind the Chiefs’ net, then he laid him out in the neutral zone on a hit that could have been called interference. Miske continued his intimidation tactics by going after Dante Hannoun, who stands all of 5′ 5”.
Logan Fisher had seen enough and during his next shift he laid out Miske with a tremendous hit that sent him flying. Fisher threw three more hard hits and took two shots before skating off. It may have been the shift of the season for Fisher.
Asked if he had indeed seen enough, Fisher said, “Yeah it was at that point, I thought that it is time to take the game back.”
Brayden Pachal followed Fisher’s lead and dished out a couple of his own hits including a solid neutral zone body to Dominic Zwerger.
With the Chiefs up 2-0, Jack Walker, flying down the right-hand side carried the puck to the net, fired a shot, settled the rebound, and put the puck past Lasse Petersen low on the glove-hand side to make the score 2-1 Chiefs, before the teams skated to the dressing rooms. Walker’s goal was assisted by Vladimir Bobylev and Chaz Reddekopp.
Bobylev appeared to injure himself in the third period. He first crawled his way to the bench. He favoured one leg to the dressing room and did not return. Coach Lowry refused to address the injury saying,”It’s play-off time.” Translation: Don’t ask questions about injuries.
The Royals came out for the second period on a mission. During the first five minutes they had the Chiefs hemmed into their own zone, creating several excellent scoring opportunities; however it was the Chiefs who scored next, against the play.
The third period was a repeat of the second with the Royals dominating play almost without let-up, but on the power-play, the Chiefs got a two-on-one break and Keanu Yamamoto made no mistake burying the puck past Griffen Outhouse, who was sliding left to right to cover the pass.
The air was let out of the building at this point with the Royals down 4-1.
Spokane went 1/2 on the power-play, while the Royals went 0/4.
The two teams play in Spokane Sunday, April 3rd and if necessary again Tuesday in Victoria at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.