Victoria Royals drop the Kelowna Rockets to go up two games to none


Jack Walker. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright - 2016 - Victoria Sports News

Game two of the Western Hockey League playoffs second series between the Victoria Royals and the Kelowna Rockets took place tonight at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The Royals eked out their second victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 7,006.

The Royals are coming off a game one win Thursday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre where they were outshot 41-31, but prevailed on the strength of great shot blocking by defensemen Chaz Reddekopp and Ryan Gagnon as well as outstanding goaltending from Coleman Vollrath, who earned first star honours for his efforts.

The Royals were again without two key players in Captain Joe Hicketts and Vladimir Bobylev, but just in time Jack Walker has brought a hot hand to the 2016 post-season.

Asked about what has changed in Walker's game, Coach Dave Lowry responded, “Walker has just elevated his game. Last year during the post-season he was our most valuable player too.”

Game two started as a chippy affair with the Rockets having the edge in play for the first eight minutes. Despite the Rockets' dominating start, at 8:12 Jack Walker opened the scoring using great hand-eye coordination to redirect an Alex Forsberg pass over goaltender Michael Herringer from beside the net, defenseman Scott Walford earned the second assist.

The Walker goal seemed to give the Royals momentum as they outplayed the Rockets during the second half of the period. The Royals led after one, 1-0.

The Royals started the second period where they left off the first, with the edge in offensive play, however, Matthew Phillips was assessed two minutes for tripping and on the ensuing power play Tyson Baillie tied the score 1-1 at the 6:02 mark, for his second of the series and the playoffs.

At 16:56 Regan Nagy scored his first goal of the post-season just as he was coming out from the corner, wristing an apparent harmless looking shot low to the glove-hand side of Herringer. Logan Fisher assisted.

The teams skated to the dressing rooms for the second intermission with the Royals up 2-1, but killing off a penalty that would carry over for 59 seconds into the third.

Walker's hot hand continued tonight with his second goal of the game scored on the power play and eighth of the post-season; he leads the WHL in post-season goals. He blasted a slapshot from the face off circle to the left of Herringer, while the Rockets were killing a four-minute double minor for high-sticking.

With 2:53 remaining on the clock Tyson Baillie appeared to have tied the game 3-3, however, the goal was reviewed as the puck was ruled to have been directed in with the skate; there was a considerable delay before the goal was disallowed. The replay showed a very slight kicking motion with Baillie's right skate.

The game ended with a heavy pressure from the Rockets, with Herringer pulled, the Rockets hemmed the Royals in their own end and nearly tied the score on several opportunities, however, Vollrath, again stood on his head to hold off a game-tying goal.

The Royals went 2/4 on the powerplay, while the Rockets were ¼. The Rockets outshot the Royals 28-26.

The series now moves to Kelowna for two games to be played on Tuesday and Thursday the 12th and 14th. If necessary the teams will play next at Save-on-foods Memorial Centre Friday, April 15th.

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