© Copyright – 2015 – Victoria Sports News
The Victoria Royals and the Prince George Cougars met tonight for the fourth consecutive time since December 18th and played a thrilling game that was appropriately decided in a shootout. The two teams split the home-and-home, four-game set with two wins apiece, capped by a 3-2 overtime victory for the Cougars tonight.
The Royals gain a one-point advantage in the four-game set from tonight’s overtime game and maintain second place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Cougars.
“It’s always tough to win both games of a back-to-back set, so I am pretty happy with the way the boys played tonight to take the game to a shootout. Both teams played very well,” Shared Coach Enio Sacilotto.
The tale of the first period was of great goaltending by Coleman Vollrath who faced 15 shots, many of them were terrific scoring opportunities, especially during the second half of the period.
At 3:55 of the first, Matt Phillips was sent in alone with a break-a-way, but was tripped before he could get a shot off, resulting in the official being forced to call a penalty shot. On the penalty shot, Phillips moved in fast on goaltender Nick McBride and buried the puck into his five hole, McBride slid fully into the net, however, the puck was not visible and the apparent goal was disallowed upon a video review, much to the dismay of the crowd who could see on the replay that McBride had the puck under him, deep into the net.
At 8:33 Tyler Soy stole the puck at his own blue line and skated deep into the Cougars end, dishing a cross-ice, tape-to-tape pass to Vladimir Bobylev who was waiting at the side of the net, he made no mistake in scoring his 12th goal of the season, to take a 2-1 lead.
The second period was much more physical with several of the Royals taking up Anderson’s and Fisher’s cause by throwing the body around. Rookie Brayden Pachal threw a clean hip check that resulted in a tripping call. During the kill, the Cougars scored and the crowd boo’d the call and the goal vociferously.
Asked about the more intense hitting being dished out by Keith Anderson, Logan Fisher and Ryan Gagnon, Sacilotto said, “That was the message tonight, to come out with more intensity, although I would suggest the first period had a bit of a slow start, so the guys got the team into the game.”
Two minutes later the refs made up for the bad call with a slashing penalty and the Royals’ Alex Forsberg buried the puck behind McBride, to notch his 14th of the season.
To start the third period McBride robbed Jack Walker on three point-blank opportunities, one during the power play that had carried over from the second period.
With the score tied 2-2 and no one wanting to give up the lead – the play was measured, with neither side giving up opportunities. The intensity ratcheted up about half-way through the third period with the crowd getting into the game and both teams exchanging opportunities, hitting hard and skating well. The Royals nearly scored several times in the final minutes as the Cougars took penalties for goaltender interference as well as a face-off violation with 20 seconds remaining, the score remained 2-2 after regulation.
The 3-on-3 was negated as the Royals had a two-man advantage that carried over to extra time, which meant that the start of overtime would be a 5-on-3 for the Royals, who couldn’t execute. The teams played 5-5 as there were no whistles to stop play.
Near the end of the overtime period Fisher nailed McAuley hard against the boards, McAuley took exception and the two threw several punches and were assessed coincidental fighting majors. The game ended tied 2-2.
Jack Walker, who skated miles tonight was the only Royal to score during the shootout, while Jesse Gabrielle, the Cougars first shooter and Jansen Harkins their fourth shooter buried the puck to take the win.
The Royals outshot the Cougars 39-34 and went 1/7 on the power-play, while Prince George were 1/6.
The Royals play again on December 30th in Kamloops to start a three-game BC road trip.