Story and photographs by Glenn Ivens (www.javalon.smugmug.com)
The Victoria Royals opened a 7 game home stand on Friday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Royals got out to a slow start and found themselves hemmed into their own end of the ice for most of the opening 5 minutes, but goaltender Keith Hamilton stood tall between the pipes until the boys settled down finishing the 1st period tied 0-0.
The 2nd period saw the Royals come out strong firing 16 shots at 2010 Colorado Avalanche draft pick Calvin Pickard, but Pickard showed why he is one of the top goaltenders in the WHL turning then all aside keep the score knotted at zeros after two periods of play.
With the Royals shorthanded just 13 seconds into the 3rd period, Kevin Sundher, who was just selected to represent the WHL in the Subway Super Series opened the scoring for the Royals when he flew down the boards and found a way to beat Pickard shorthanded. Tim Taber then scored his first goal since the 2009-2010 season, when he took a pass from Robin Soudek and beat Pickard on the same penalty kill to put the Royals up 2-0 early.
The Thunderbirds took advantage a few minutes later, when the Royals seemed to fall into a lull, and got goals from Brad Deagle, Conner Sanvido and Burke Gallimore in a span of 3:15 to take a 3-2 lead. The Royals continued to put pressure on the Thunderbirds and with the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker Sundher pounced on a loose puck in the slot and fired it past Pickard to tie it at 3-3. Steven Hodges had a glorious chance to win it when Pickard got caught out of the net but his shot went just wide. The teams headed to overtime with the scored tied 3-3.
The teams solved nothing in overtime sending the game to a shootout. Soudek, the 2nd Victoria shooter opened the scoring in the shootout but Gallimore answered right back for the Thunderbirds. Then after misses from both teams Hodges appeared to score but the official waved it off. Luke Lockhart then found the back of the net to seal it for the Thunderbirds.
“We came out lackadaisical at the start of the game, we came back later in the game but you need to play a full 60 minutes to win” remarked Sundher after the game, “I thought we should have won that game. We played a top notch goalie in this league and it’s a challenge to score but we got some pucks and bodies to the net later in the game and I think if we can do that tomorrow well be alright.”
The Royals outshot the Thunderbirds 37-32 while Seattle was 0/4 on the power play and Victoria was 0/1.
The games three stars were: 1st star Calvin Pickard – Seattle, 2nd star Kevin Sundher – Victoria and 3rd star Marcel Noebels – Seattle.
The Royals are back at it Saturday night when they take on the same Seattle Thunderbirds. Game time at Save On Foods Memorial Center is 7:05 pm.