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The injury-riddled and playoff-weary Victoria Royals now have their back up against the proverbial wall. They lost both home games to start the second-round playoff series against the Tri-City Americans, Friday 7-0 and Saturday, 4-1.
The Royals got off to a good start in Game 1, however, their inability to capitalize on early opportunities would later come back to haunt the team as the score got away from them and with it, so did momentum.
The first period on Saturday saw few opportunities for either team; however, the Americans spent the majority of the period – aside from a few forays and a penalty kill – in the Royals’ end. The Royals were successful in boxing out the Americans, but the zone time was lopsided.
Six-foot, six-inch, 221-pound Michael Rasmussen of Surrey, a Detroit Red Wings drafted player, manhandled the Royals by factoring in all four Americans’ goals including scoring a hat-trick and assisting on Morgan Geekie’s 11th goal in just six playoff games so far this post-season.
Asked how they will contain him in Tri-Cities, Chaz Reddekopp said, “He’s a good player, high draft pick. We have to limit his space. Anytime he gets a little space in the slot and in front of the net, he is really good at redirecting pucks. If we just go to him a little quicker and be a little more urgent to go to him when he is around the puck or the net, it will be better for us in containing him.”
“He’s a good player, he is tough to handle down low,” said Matthew Phillips. “He plays to their strengths. I think the biggest thing we can do is keep the puck away from him.”
Rasmussen scored his seventh of the post-season at 49 seconds of the second period to break the scoreless tie.
Dante Hannoun scored at 6:59 with a powerplay marker. He shot from the slot, one-timing a Matthew Phillips cross-slot pass. Jared Freadrich earned the second assist on the play. The assist for Phillips sets a new franchise record for points in a single playoff run with 17 points in nine games, while former Royals’ player Jack Walker had previously set the mark in 13 games at eight goals and eight assists for 16 points. Phillips scored six times and set up 11 others.
Rasmussen scored a second goal at 16:05 of the second, while Phillips served a penalty for high-sticking.
Morgan Geekie scored at 2:49 of the third period to take the most dangerous lead in hockey, 3-1. With an assist, Rasmussen earned this third point on the night.
Rasmussen completed the hat-trick with an empty-netter at 18:44.
“We are only thinking about one game and that is Game 3. Doesn’t matter if it’s 1-1 or 2-0 that what we have to think about,” said Coach Dan Price.
“We are challenging the group to be better. To do whatever it takes to win. We got more, way more and we are going to. We have a higher standard of play. We believe we have got way more. I believe we will show that in Game 3,” added an emotional Price.
The Royals went 1/5 on the powerplay, while the Americans went ¼. The Americans outshot the Royals 39-25.
Griffen Outhouse took the loss for the Royals, though he did make some spectacular saves. The oxygen left the building when Outhouse was helped off the ice during the second period. The Royals cannot take one more injury to a key player – luckily it was a skate issue. Dean McNabb manned the Royals net for just over a minute, while the repair work was being done at the bench.
Patrick Dea played in net for the Americans, stopping 25 of 26 shots.
Round 2 Playoff Schedule – The Royals’ second-round playoff schedule against the Tri-City Americans is as follows:
Game 3 – Tuesday, April 10th – Toyota Center – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Wednesday, April 11th – Toyota Center – 7: 05 p.m.
Game 5 – Friday, April 13th – Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 6 – Sunday, April 15th – Toyota Center – 5:05 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 18th – Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre – 7:05 p.m. (if necessary)
EXTRAS: Jeff de Wit skated off the ice late in the first period and appeared not to come back. No status was provided, however, he was walking around after the game and appeared fine.