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“Posts happen.”
-Kaid Oliver

Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Victoria Royals, fresh off of taking three of four points in a weekend back-to-back set at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre against the Tri-City Americans hosted the Seattle Thunderbirds for the first of another back-to-back set on Tuesday. They lost, but boy did they deserve a different fate. Final score including an empty-net goal was 5-3.

After Saturday’s shootout loss, Coach Dan Price said, “It’s not unlike a playoff series, we play a couple at home, get a day or two off, then two more, so we will treat this like the playoffs.”

Although they started the game slow on Tuesday, the Royals did everything to win including hitting the posts at least eight times and blasted the goaltender Roddy Ross with 44 shots.

“He played a very good game there. I felt we had a lot of opportunities in the offensive zone. We just couldn’t finish it off tonight,’ said Kody McDonald. “…but there is always tomorrow.”

At 16:36 of the first period, Royals defender Jake Kustra, skating backwards near the left hash-marks, delivered a tape-to-tape pass to Thunderbirds forward Matthew Wedman who subsequently wristed his 24th of the season blocker side on goaltender Brock Gould. It was just the fourth shot of the game for Seattle. It was a classic hockey 101 miscue that Kustra won’t let happen again.

At 18:35 Jake Lee scored his third of the season on the powerplay while Scott Walford was serving a minor for hooking; suddenly the two-goal deficit brought the Royals to life.

One of Roddy Ross’s many saves in goal for Seattle Tuesday. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

During the first period, goaltender Ross stoned Kaid Oliver on a shorthanded breakaway, Tanner Sidaway five-on-five and Dino Kambeitz on a stunning rush where he spit the Seattle defence and went forehand-backhand-forehand.

The teams went to the dressing room with Seattle leading 2-0.

The Royals stepped up the pace during the second period, but were facing a strong Seattle goaltender and his best friends.

At 4:44, with Sean Richards off for two minutes for slashing, Kaid Oliver broke in on an odd-man rush with Kody McDonald who fed him a pass through the slot; Oliver buried it high, glove-side with a bullet of a wrister.

The Thunderbirds came back with a goal that Gould would want back. Picking off a pass in the neutral zone, Owen Williams released a harmless looking wrist shot from the top of the slot that fluttered over Gould’s shoulder and dropped to the ice to restore the Seattle two-goal lead.

Ross continued to rob Royals forwards with glorious opportunities coming from Oliver, Kambeitz, Kody McDonald, Tanner Sidaway, Logan Doust and defenceman Scott Walford during the second period.

When asked about Sidaway’s improved play, teammate Oliver said, “Sids is an awesome guy; an awesome guy on the ice. He has been playing unbelievable; he has earned it this year playing the way he has, showing his dedication to the game. He is the first one here in the morning, works hard and a great guy and I am happy for him.”

Outshooting the Thunderbirds 14-7 in the second period and 12-6 in the first, the Royals deserved a better fate heading into the third period.

After a near relentless attack the Royals found pay-dirt when Kody McDonald took a Jameson Murray pass from 10-feet out and scored, short side and low below Ross’s glove-hand. After many golden chances, it took a screen shot to get the puck past Ross.

Despite the Royals domination, Seattle came back with another goal – after Gould benefited from his post-save, he was screened too. Cade McNelly scored his first of the season at 11:27 to re-establish their two-goal lead. Payton Mount earned the only assist on the goal.

It was the 6’ 3” Westlock, AB native s first goal of the season.

At 13:37, Scott Walford scored his eighth goal of the season; it was a similar shot and placement to McDonald’s goal, Cutler and Igor Martynov assisting. The goal gave the 3,393 in attendance hope during the final few minutes of the game.

The Royals pressed, pulled Gould in favour of the extra attacker and again faced a stone-cold Ross in net. Mathew Wedman intercepted a defensive end pass and skated in over the blue and one-handed the puck to the open net.

“Forty-four shots on goal and at least eight posts, so that’s 52. And that’s more than just shots on goal; they are high-quality scoring chances. So I am really happy with how the guys performed,” said Price, post-game. “The offence was generating, re-establishing possession, re-establishing the offensive. There were a couple of things we need to work on defensively. But I am happy with the overall play.

The Royals and Thunderbirds will return to action Wednesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm.