© Copyright – 2016 – Victoria Sports News
The Victoria Royals took on the Prince George Cougars Sunday for the final time during this 2015-2016 regular season in front of 6,769 fans in the Royals’ second-to-last home game at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, defeating the Cougars 4-3. With the win the Royals have amassed 100 points, which ties the club’s record for points in a season.
After hovering all year in the top-five in the Western Hockey League and top-three in the Western Conference, the Royals having dominated play during the second half of the season and now find themselves in first place overall for the first time in club history. Today’s matinee game was game 69 of 72 and the seventh meeting between these two Western Conference teams, where the Royals have dominated with a record of 5-2-0-0, after tonight’s match-up.
The Royals opened the scoring on the rush at 4:41 of the first with Alex Forsberg netting his 28th goal of the season, from Ralph Jarratt and Dante Hannoun. One minute later Hicketts threw an apparent harmless volley on net from the point, but the Cougars goaltender Nick McBride let out a rebound and Vladimir Bobylev found the puck on his stick at the side of the net. He potted his 26th of the season at 5:55 from Hicketts and Jack Walker.
Walker wanted one of his own and took care of business less than two minutes later with his 33rd of the season. McBride was subsequently pulled for Ty Edmonds having faced just nine shots.
Asked about the Cougars not starting the game aggressively Dave Lowry said, “I like to compliment the way our guys played today, regardless of whatever the Cougars did or didn’t do, I liked our compete level. These guys are young, you are going to see some mistakes. I think we closed the game well.”
The Cougars would need to come out for the second period prepared to compete.
Scott Walford scored his first career WHL goal at 8:18 of the middle stanza. Walford received a cross-ice pass from Bobylev, skated in a few steps and let fly a wrister to the top left corner. Ethan Price collected the second assist.
“Yeah it was nice to score my first WHL goal today, it was a dream of mine to make the WHL and scoring is an added bonus. It was a great pass from Bobylev,” Said Walford during a post-game interview.
Sixteen seconds later the Cougars came back as Morrison netted his 27th on a goal-mouth scramble, sliding the puck past a sprawling Coleman Vollrath. One-minute and 28 seconds later, the Cougars were at it again this time it was Luke Harrison with his 10th from Justin Almeida and Jared Bethune.
It appeared that the high energy level was paying off for the Cougars, even though they sent three players to the box during the first 6:44 of the period; they scored twice and were continuing their aggressive play throughout.
At the 15:00 mark of the second, Vollrath robbed Jansen Harkens with a tremendous second effort thwarting an otherwise sure goal into an open net, with a lunging leg-pad save, but the Cougars were not going to let up and managed to pot their third of the period. Morrison using Chaz Reddekopp as a screen, while baring down on the big defenseman, snapped a shot past Vollrath. Assists went to Brogan O’Brien and Tate Olsen. It was Morrison’s second of the game. Setting up potential fireworks for the third.
The Royals locked down the defense during the third period and Vollrath closed the door completely. The score remained 4-3.
The Royals out-shot the Cougars 31-18, went 1/3 on the power play, while playing a disciplined game not allowing any power play opportunities.
The Royals next game is against the second place Kelowna Rockets who until recently had led the Royals and the league throughout the season. The game takes place Wednesday March 16th in Kelowna.
The Royals close out the regular season campaign at home against the Everett Silvertips on Saturday, March 19th. The 2015-2016 WHL playoffs begin Friday, March 25th with the Royals hosting the second wildcard entry.