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After a spate of games against high-quality competition, the Victoria Royals (34-20-3-1) faced a team with a losing record, the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings (16-32-5-2), who the Royals have defeated nine consecutive times. It may have been a case of beware of the opponent with nothing to lose.
Wednesday, the Royals were defeated in the shootout by the score of 7-6.
It was the first game of a five-game home-stand at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre that saw the Royals come back five times.
The Royals got off to an early start with Western Hockey League Player of the Week Tyler Soy scoring his 30th goal of the season at 1:02 of the first period. Soy grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, skated in on the left side and fired a 20-foot wrister, going five-hole on goaltender Josh Dechaine. Soy entered the contest with 13 points in his previous six games. The goal was assisted by defencemen Mitchell Prowse and Scott Walford.
At 6:36, the Oil Kings got on the board during the powerplay. With Okanagan Rockets call-up Remy Aquilon off for two minutes for hooking, Trey Fix-Wolansky scored his 24th of the season. Left alone to Joel Grzybowski’s right side, he received a cross-ice pass from Tomas Soustal and directed it in with his skate. The goal was not reviewed as it was not directed in with a distinct kicking motion. Kobe Mohr picked up the second assist on the play.
Grzybowski was called into action, giving both Griffen Outhouse and Dean McNabb the night off. He was picked up in a trade earlier in the season from the Saskatoon Blades.
“I really like the way he works. He really competes. There was a lot of action in his crease tonight with second and third chances,” said Coach Dan Price. “We have seen that in practice and in other games again tonight, so we are impressed with his work ethic.”
At 7:54 David Kope scored his 10th from Liam Keeler and Matthew Robertson.
Matthew Phillips tied the game up with a beautiful wrist shot, while on the breakaway at 8:33. It was his 43rd of the season. He was sprung by Soy from the neutral zone. Dante Hannoun earned the second assist on the play. Phillips shot top right corner.
At 14:15, Davis Murray scored his first of the season. Like the second Oil Kings goal, it was a close-in play, with Murray standing in the paint and redirecting the puck that was shot by Carter Souch. Nick Bowman also earned an assist.
Tanner Kaspick, who has been a valuable addition to the line-up since arriving at the time of the January 10 trade deadline, started to put pressure on the young Edmonton defence. He scored his 21st at 17:35 to tie the game at three. Kade Jensen had fired a shot from the left point; Dechaine let out a rebound and Kaspick one-handed it into the net.
To start the second period, the Royals got on the powerplay; however, could not capitalize, despite several good scoring opportunities. At 2:14 the Oil Kings scored again to go up 4-3. It was another first goal as Braydon Gorda scored on a shot that the Oil Kings were practicing at the morning skate, a high, screened wrister from the point. Grzybowski tried to glove it, but missed.
At 3:06, Ty Gerla went off for slashing, still nothing out of the Royals powerplay. At 6:31, Ethan Cap went off for tripping, as he spilled Soy hard into the boards. Still nothing was generated from the Royals slick offence and prolific powerplay against a team that the Royals have defeated nine-consecutive times.
With off-setting penalties and four-on-four play, defenceman Kade Jensen shot high glove-side on Dechaine. The goal came after a failed 2-on-1 break between Andrei Grishakov and Prowse. Score tied 4-4.
Soustal scored again during the third period, Kaspick, playing big all night set up Noah Gregor to send the game into overtime, with the score tied 6-6. Overtime solved nothing; however, there were some exciting scoring opportunities for both teams.
In the shootout Phillips and Martynov missed, but Hannoun, the second Royal to go, dazzled the crowd with a nifty, forehand-backhand deke that went upstairs.
Colten Kehler and Tomas Soustal scored for the Oil Kings to win it in overtime.
Asked about the Oil Kings play, Price said, “They work very hard. They are difficult to play against, their record is not indicative of their play.”
“It goes to show that any team can come in and win on any given night,” said Soy. “So you got to make sure you are prepared and you have to battle all the way through the game and you cannot take anyone lightly. They played very well and capitalized on their chances.”
The Edmonton powerplay scored once on their two opportunities, while Victoria went 1/6.
Victoria got off 40 shots, while Edmonton took 31 on Outhouse.
Friday, the Royals host the Red Deer Rebels. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm.