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Phillip Schultz and Paycen Bjorklund tussle in front of Beck Warm. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

The Victoria Royals hosted the Tri-City Americans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Friday for the first of a back-to-back set. It is the first time that the teams meet this season. During the past 24 games between the two, Victoria has gone 13-5-5-1. Add another win to that record as the Royals tripped up the Americans 5-2.

The Americans were 25-18-2-1 entering Friday’s action. Victoria was 24-20-1-1. Last time the teams met, the Americans knocked the Royals out of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The Royals got off to an early start with Igor Martynov scoring at 2:58 from the left faceoff circle. The Royals caught goaltender Beck Warm on the right side of the net. Ralph Jarratt fired a cross-slot pass to the open Martynov to earn his first of two points on the night.

Jarratt has upped his play and fitness level since coming back from injury. Asked about his effort to focus on fitness he said, “Yeah, absolutely. I think it was lacking a little bit, especially being out as much as I was. Of course you can’t be in game shape [being injured] but now that I have played the games, I am starting to come back and it has been nice.”

The 20-year-old Fort St. Johns native is in his fifth season as a Royals defenceman.

After killing off a penalty, the Americans came back with a partial breakaway goal by Krystof Hrabik with his 11th of the season. He fired it over the left shoulder of Griffen Outhouse. Riley Sawchuck earned the only assist on the play.

Hrabik took a Check to the Head penalty at 14:58. Nine seconds later, Jarratt scored his fifth of the season, going blocker side on Warm, close-in. Kaid Oliver fed him a nifty pass between the legs of the defender, tape-to-tape. Martynov earned the second assist on the play, his second point of the period.

Hrabik. a 6’4” 210-pound centre,  played for the Czech Republic in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships. The 19-year-old Praha, Czech Republic native has picked up 30 points in 42 games played so far this season – his first in the WHL.

With 2:05 remaining in the first period, Logan Doust scored his third goal of the season from just outside of the paint going far side on Warm. Dino Kambeitz worked hard to get a hold of the puck and fed him a backhand pass from behind the net. Tarun Fizer earned the second assist on the play, much to the delight of the 5,558 in attendance.

Game of inches. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

“I think Fizur, Doust and Kambeitz played well all night. That one goal that Doust scored, was off a pass from I believe Kambeitz, after Kambeitz had done all that work down low to protect the puck and maintain possession and Fizur was in on that goal too. I thought that that was good that all three guys were in on it,” Said Coach Dan Price.

Asked if he feels he is fitting in well with the line Doust said, “yes, and on that play Kambeitz did a lot of work to flip the puck to me and I just shot it in.”

The period ended 3-1 for the Royals.

The intensity of the game picked up a little during the second period which resulted in a few penalty calls. With 4:56 remaining in the period, the Royals got on a short, two-man advantage. Kody McDonald fired off a pair of shots from the stick side of Warm in the faceoff circle, but nothing doing.

The two closely matched teams were playing an hard-fought game.

The teams skated to the dressing room with the Royals harbouring the most dangerous lead in hockey, 3-1.

At 7:32 of the third period, the Americans got within one as Kyle Olson fired the puck at the net from the top of the slot, Outhouse was completely screened – he had no chance. The goal came on the rush, while the Americans were on the powerplay. Aaron Hyman earned the only assist on the play.

D-Jay Jerome scored his 19th goal while on a breakaway, went forehand – backhand – forehand to retake the two-goal lead. Kody McDonald fed him the pass. Kaid Oliver earned the second assist on the play.

Asked if he was worried about giving up the most dangerous lead in hockey Coach Dan Price said, “no, not too worried, but I was impressed with the comeback effort.”

Tarun Fizer scored his 11th goal of the season into the empty net at 15:51, with Warm pulled in favour of the extra attacker; it was a high-risk – high-reward move to pull the goaltender with over four minutes remaining.

“It was a really good game. It was a close game. The score was not reflective of the quality of the game. We had the empty netter there at the end, but they had plenty of chances and they pushed hard at the end as well,” said Price. “That was two teams that are well balanced that both play hard and both were physical and it was a close game despite there being a three goal lead at the end.”

Scoring:

Royals – Igor Martynov 1g-1a, Ralph Jarratt 1g-1a, Tarun Fizer 1g-1a, Kaid Oliver 0g-2a, Logan Doust 1g-0a (Game Winner), D-Jay Jerome 1g-0a, Dino Kambeitz 0g-1a, Kody McDonald 0g-1a.

Tri-City – Krystof Hrabik 1g-0a, Kyle Olson 1g-0a, Aaron Hyman 0g-1a, Riley Sawchuk 0g-1a.

Goaltending:

Royals – Griffen Outhouse (W) – 60:00 mins, 24 saves on 26 shots.

Tri-City – Beck Warm (L) – 59:50 mins, 25 saves on 29 shots.

Powerplay:

Royals – 1/5 = 20.0%

Tri-City – 1/4 = 25.0%

Notes:

Home Cooking: With their victory tonight, the Royals move to 5-0-0-0 in their first home game of a month this season. In those contests, Victoria has outscored their opponent by a margin of 25-17.

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