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Kaid Oliver. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Victoria Royals (8-1) hosted the defending Western Hockey League champion Swift Current Broncos (1-9) Wednesday night in the third game of their current six-game homestand.

Both teams are coming off losses. The Broncos losers of eight of nine games so far this season were defeated by the Vancouver Giants Tuesday night in Langley by the score of 6-2. On Sunday, the Giants were the first team to defeat the Royals this season. They won game two of their back-to-back set 3-2. Victoria won game one by the score of 3-2 in overtime.

Wednesday, The Royals opened the scoring at 3:37 of the first period on the powerplay – it was a redirect by Kaid Oliver who was positioned in the slot. Dante Hannoun sent a hard wrist shot from the point on net, Oliver made no mistake. Scott Walford was initially awarded the second assist on the play, but it was later given to Brandon Cutler. It was Oliver’s team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Earlier in the day, Walford was named to Team WHL for the annual CIBC Canada-Russia Series in Kamloops. The series starts on Monday, Nov. 5th, while Vancouver will welcome the WHL All-Stars and Team Russia for the second game on the Tuesday.

At 6:58, while killing a penalty and with the referee’s arm in the air, the Broncos pulled goalie Isaac Poulter in favour of the extra attacker. Royals’ rookie goaltender Brock Gould from  Colorado Springs, CO, in his first WHL game, was beaten on a shot by Max Patterson but the puck bounced off the far post to Joona Kiviniemi of Oula, Finland, who deposited his first WHL goal into the yawning cage, as the 6’4” Gould was sprawled in the crease.

Asked about nerves in his first WHL game, Gould said, “It was definitely the biggest crowd (3,201) that I have played in front of. At first, there are nerves, but once you touch the puck a couple of times things settle down.”

Matthew Smith fires a point shot. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Gould credits veteran Griffin Outhouse for being an excellent mentor. “He has been really good. Just watching how he prepares and recovers from all the games he plays has been really helpful.”

After what seemed like three minutes of non-stop play in the Broncos end and after at least two Royals line changes on that foray, the Royals scored their second goal of the game. Dante Hannoun fed Brandon Cutler the puck after taking his own shot and Cutler sniped a quick wrister to the top right corner.

With 25 seconds remaining in the first period, Hannoun scored his own goal that went five-hole. It was a powerplay marker that came off of a Royals’ faceoff win by Oliver. Walford received the puck on the faceoff and fed Hannoun mid-ice at the point. He skated in and fired the puck into the back of the net.

D-Jay Jerome scored at 1:20 of the second period from his knees. He was on the edge of the crease when he roofed the puck past Poulter. Oliver and Martynov earned assists on the play. The Broncos Owen Blocker scored at 9:00 from Ethan O’Rourke and Tanner Nagel.

The Broncos neatly killed off a four-minute penalty during the second period. The Royals managed just one shot and had difficulty setting up in the offensive zone. Ben King had high-sticked a Royals player in front of the Royals bench and took the double-minor for his carelessness.

During the third period, the Royals scored a backbreaker at 10:32. Tanner Sidaway situated in the slot received a pass from Hannoun from behind the net. It was Sidaway’s first goal as a Royals player; he slipped a flat wrist shot stick-side on Poulter. The puck had originally deflected off the referee’s skate to Hannoun.

Asked about the game Hannoun, who had four points on the night, said, “We just stuck to our game plan; I think we played well, but they adjusted as the game went on.”

A minute later, Igor Martynov broke in and was checked on the hands by a Broncos defender and earned a penalty shot. He skated in and ran out of real estate but flipped the puck at Poulter anyway. Poulter took exception and fired the puck back at Martynov.

The Royals played a 200-foot game to give rookie Gould the best possible outcome and allowed only 12 shots all game. During the third period, Tarun Fizer dove in front of a point shot, “That was huge. I have a lot of respect for him for that shot block and the way he played,” said Coach Dan Price.

The Royals went 2/7 on the man advantage, while the Broncos were 0/4.

The Royals outshot the Broncos 28-12.

They will next play a back-to-back set against the visiting Kelowna Rockets Friday and Saturday.

 

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