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The Victoria Royals played their 2015 – 2016 season home opener with some good energy in front of a boisterous crowd of 6,627. They were out-hitting the Portland Winterhawks early and often. The Royals carried their intensity through two periods, taking a 4-0 lead into the third, however, the Winterhawks came out hard in the third, notched one to set the tone for the second of their back-to-back weekend Saturday night in the Save on Foods Memorial Centre.

There was a little animosity in the game early and shortly after killing off a Tyler Soy penalty Chaz Reddekopp tussled with a Portland Winterhawk player and although punches were not thrown, Reddekopp won the wrestling match, by taking the Winterhawk player to the ice. Both ended up on the box with coincidental minor penalties.

The first goal of the game came at the 19:58 mark of the first period. After some physical play in the Royals zone, defencemen Ryan Gagnon started the breakout passed to winger Alex Forsberg who carried the puck up the left side on a 2 on 1 play. Shortly after crossing the blue line, he dished the puck in the slot for Walker to backhand a breakaway shot over Winterhawk goalie Michael Bullion’s left shoulder to end the period, 1-0 for the Royals.

The second period turned out to be more intense as the Royals came out with even more jump, potting three unanswered goals. The second goal came after some sloppy defensive play in the Winterhawk’s zone; Forsberg picked-up an errant pass, and sent the puck to an open Vladimir Bobylev, who was positioned on the right side of Bullion to wrist a whistler over his right shoulder.

Shortly after a tremendous effort by Jack Walker to go wide around the Winterhawk defenceman to find himself all alone, but turned back by Bullion, Dante Hannoun apparently inspired scored from a Forsberg set-up and Bobylev got the second assist on the play. The assist was Forsberg’s third on three goals, which gave him the first star of the game honours.

Post-game Coach Dave Lowry said, “Walker makes his teammates skate harder, that’s what he does out there.”

Hannoun was in on the next goal, setting up Ryan Peckford on a Keith Anderson clearing pass. The goal came on an effort that went against the play as the Winterhawks were having their first sustained effort of the game.

Jones from the Winterhawks, while trying to ignite some intensity in his team went after Keith Anderson; Anderson prevailed with several steady rights to Jones’s helmet and one that appeared to connect to his chin. Moments later the Winterhawks continued their effort to ignite the team, smashed Walker into the boards in the corner to the left of their net. At first Walker appeared shaken up, however, he responded by setting up a fantastic play with Anderson.

Winterhawks started the third period with intensity and kept the Royals hemmed into their own zone for most of the first 10 minutes. They did manage to break Cole Vollrath’s shutout bid, by breaking out of their own end on a set play. Carl Ericson scored on a setup by Cody Glass and Nick Heid.

The Royals and the Winterhawks play again Saturday night in Save on Foods Memorial Centre. Asked if he expects a different Winterhawks team Saturday night, Walker replied, “Yes. This was our home opener and we came out with intensity, they will be ready for us.”

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