Story and Photographs by Glenn Ivens (www.javalon.smugmug.com)
The Save On Foods Memorial Center sound system was blasting tunes from the 80’s, Marty the Marmot was sporting a mullet and the fans filled the seats as the Victoria Royals took on the Vancouver Giants on Friday night.
The Royals scored a 2-1 victory in a game that had a playoff feel to it, as both teams played tight defensive games. “We needed to win this game. We owed these guys they took it to us a couple times this year” remarked Kevin Sundher, who continued his strong season assisting on both Royals goals, “it wasn’t a typical high scoring game for us, there wasn’t a lot of room to move in the offensive zone, I’ll look at the tapes and see if I can find a way to combat that. We play well at home, we feed off the energy here and our record shows it.”
Robin Soudek got the scoring started with his 12th of the season when he took a pass from Sundher in tight, and after an initial save by Vancouver’s Adam Morrison, collected his rebound and buried it. The first period came to an end with the shots 8-7 for Vancouver and the score 1-0 for Victoria.
Victoria controlled the play in the 2nd period after Vancouver found themselves in penalty trouble but a miscue led to the Giants’ Cain Franson going in alone on Hamilton and tieing the game at the 2:35 mark. The Royals took the lead back 20 seconds later when Sundher fed a pass from the corner that Brendan Persley fired to the blocker side on Morrison. Again it was the Giants out shooting the Royals 10-8 in the period but the Royals continued to lead 2-1.
The 3rd period saw both teams get their chances but Morrison and Victoria’s Keith Hamilton kept the doors shut. Shots in the period were 16-11 for Vancouver.
Hamilton, who was named the games 1st star, and the Royals faced some strong pressure in the final minute when Vancouver pulled Morrison for the extra attacker but he stood tall and preserved the win. “The guys played well tonight, they blocked a lot of shots and they got out of the way and let me see the puck, they really helped me out tonight,” commented Hamilton. “The bounces were going my way and it’s nice to have one of those nights. These guys are our biggest rivals, they’re a hard working team and get their chances we need to match that work ethic and limit those opportunities. It got a little intense near the end but I just wanted to battle and keep us in the game.
The Royals also got some good news on the injury front as Zach Habscheid returned to the lineup. “It felt great to be back out there, my wind wasn’t were it was before and I made a couple mistakes but you can’t play a perfect game the first one back.”
Giants coach Don Hay took the loss in stride, “I thought it was a pretty good game, lots of intensity. We had a couple chances to tie it up but their goalie stood in there. Both teams penalty kills were good there were a few chances but the goalies played well.”
Sundher, who was selected to play for Team WHL in the Subway Super Series later this month, continued to show his stuff in front of 2012 Team Canada World Junior head coach Don Hay. “I just want to go out there and compete, in the past people have knocked my consistency and compete level and I want to prove otherwise” remarked Sundher when asked if he had any personal motivation playing in front of Hay.