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The Victoria Royals hosted the Vancouver Giants Saturday for game 2 of their first-round playoff series and pulled off a 5-4 win. The series is now tied 1-1, heading to Langley for two games.
The Giants won game 1 by the score of 2-1, despite the teams firing 41 and 33 shots at goaltenders Trent Miner and Griffen Outhouse, respectively. Miner earned first star honours for his efforts on Friday.
For the second straight game, Tyler Soy and Scott Walford, two key players for the Royals, were scratched from the line-up. Dino Kambeitz was also scratched for game 2, as he suffered a hit to the head in game 1. Sixteen-year-old Kaden Reinders was also out. Back in the line-up was Lane Zablocki wearing a full face shield.
Six of the past seven Royals playoff games, the team that scored first, won. The Royals got on the board first Saturday, when Braydon Buziak scored his first of the playoffs, firing a slapper from the top of the slot. Kaid Oliver earned the only assist on the play.
San Jose Shark draft pick Noah Gregor scored at 15:04 while on the rush. Tanner Kaspick’s shot popped up in the air and Gregor batted it in at waist height.
Dawson Holt got one for the Giants, from the faceoff circle to the right of Griffen Outhouse at 16:34. Matt Barberis and Tyler Benson were throwing the puck around in the Royals end and spotted an open Holt.
At 17:22, Tarun Fizer brought the 5,272 fans out of their seats when he caught the puck in his glove while in full-stride, dropped it to the ice and wristed a shot far-side on Miner. It was a goal that Miner will want back. Kade Jensen and Jared Freadrich earned assists on the play. The 5’10” rookie from Chestermere, AB scored just twice during the regular season. The Royals’ bench celebrated vociferously for the 17-year-old.
“That’s WHL playoff hockey,” said coach Dan Price after the game. “It wasn’t much different than last night, where they slid in one more puck than we did, but tonight we just happened to get one more past their goalie.”
The goals kept coming. At 3:11 of the second period, Brennan Riddle scored an odd goal on. It was a weak point shot that changed directions and slipped between the pads of Outhouse. Owen Hardy and Brayden Watt earned assists on the play.
At 4:26, the Giants were back at it again, this time Milos Roman fired a shot from the glove-side on Outhouse, it found the top of the net, Ty Ronning assisted; the score was tied at 3-3.
Jared Freadrich and Brayden Holt exchanged goals 17 seconds apart. Freadrich’s goal was a powerplay marker. It was Holt’s second of the game.
The Royals went ahead 5-4 at 18:02 of the second, when Phillips was sprung down the right side, from the right faceoff circle, he saucered a tape-to-tape pass to Jeff de Witt who, while down to one knee, one-timed a shot far-side, top-right corner. The game winner was also the goal of the game.
Asked if he liked the fact that the officials put the whistles away and let the players play, big defenceman Ralph Jarratt said, “I think that speaks to everyone. I love a game like that when refs let it go both ways. I thought that’s what they did tonight and it was a lot of fun. The refs did a real good job.”
The Royals powerplay went 1/5 while the Giant’s were stymied on their two opportunities.
Griffen Outhouse stopped 33 of 37 shots, while Miner stopped 21 of 26.
The teams faceoff again Tuesday and Thursday next week at Langley Events Centre.
EXTRAS: Tanner Kaspick went down mid-way through the third period, hard against the boards. He appears to hit his head. He did not come back to play nor skate for his third star selection.