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Brandon Cutler forechecking. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

The Victoria Royals hosted the Prince George Cougars at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre and after a slow start to the game, they came out for the second period, Tarun-up the ice. They won by the score of 5-1.

“I heard the leadership group among themselves talking – this is without any of the coach’s involvement – about what kind of game we want to make this, what kind of team do we went to be – and they came out like a storm during the second period,” said Coach Dan Price. “So that was impressive with the quality of the play and the quality of the leadership in there.”

The schedule maker gave them a set of four games in five nights at home, which means rookie Brock Gould got the start. He took over for Griffen Outhouse after just over two periods of play on Wednesday.

“Brock is really emerging. Obviously, he is a quality goaltender and a quality human being. He is emerging as a confident goalie. The team looks more comfortable in front of him, which is hard to do in a rookie season,” added Price.

Cutler, point-blank was stopped but would later score. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall.

The Cougars escaped the first period with a 1-0 lead after the Royals dominated and outshot them, 12-8. Goaltender Isaiah DiLaura held the Royals off the scoresheet.

Rhett Rinehart opened the scoring during the first period at 12:27. Ethan Browne and Josh Maser assisted. It was the 17-year-old, Lloydminster native’s third goal of the season. The Prince Albert Raiders picked him in the first round of the WHL bantam draft in 2016, 13th overall. The defender also has nine assists for 12 points in 32 games so far this season.

It was the only goal of the first period.

After good, in-close scoring chances during the second period, the Royals scored twice.

Dino Kambeitz scored at 14:25 as DiLaura was holding strong, but Kambeitz fought hard to squeeze the puck the goaltender. It was his fifth of the season.  One-minute and 14 seconds later, Tarun Fizer, who has had a hot hand lately kept his points streak alive, going four games in a row with at least a point, including a hat-trick earlier in the week against the Portland Winterhawks. Dante Hannoun and Scott Walford assisted on the play.

Price earlier in the week, said “sometimes the puck will go post and out, crossbar and out, through the crease and other times they will go post and in” – it’s about bounces created from hard work.

The Royals got two more early in the third period, to open the game up for the 3,904 fans that were in attendance. First, at 1:18, Kaid Oliver, while skating down the right side, wristed a bullet low left-side under the blocker of DiLaura. It was one that the goaltender wanted back. Logan Doust and Kambeitz assisted on the play.

Brandon Cutler scored his seventh of the season 37 seconds later, as he skated east-west through the slot and buried the puck to put the Royals up 4-1; they scored five unanswered goals.

Asked about his hot hand, Fizer said, “I have to give credit to my teammates for that. My bounces are just going in. Schultzy worked hard tonight and he deserved a goal and he got it.”

Phillip Schultz scored the Royals fifth goal at 8:23 of the third period; it was his sixth of the season.

The shots were 35-34 for the Cougars. The Royals powerplay went ¼, while the Cougars were stymied on the four opportunities that they had.

The Royals have no time to relish in the win as they host the Vancouver Giants Saturday night for Teddy Bear Toss Night, before heading out on the road until Jan. 9 as they make way for the IIHF World Junior (U20) Championships.