Kamloops, BC – In a Saturday night matchup at the Interior Savings Centre the Victoria Royals took on the Kamloops Blazers in the fifth meeting between the B.C. Division rivals this season. The Royals gave Keith Hamilton the start in goal, while the Blazers went with Cole Cheveldave.
The game started with the majority of the play controlled by the Royals, but a penalty five minutes in gave the Blazers an opportunity to open the scoring. With the man-advantage just about to expire, Kamloops converted their first when Dylan Willick snapped a shot from the slot through the legs of Hamilton at 6:03. The Blazers added their second of the night 13 seconds later when Colin Smith fed JC Lipon at the right post who backhanded the puck into the net. Just prior to the 15 minute mark Victoria received a penalty shot after Blazers’ defenseman Tyler Bell covered the puck in the crease. Royals’ forward Robin Soudek looked to deke to his forehand, but Cheveldave slid across to make the left pad save. Victoria trailed 2-0 after one period despite outshooting Kamloops 11-8.
Victoria started the middle frame with an early man-advantage as they looked to cut into the Blazers’ lead. On the power play, Hayden Rintoul threw a puck on net that sat loose in the crease. Kevin Sundher looked to poke the puck in, but Cheveldave reached across with his glove to rob the Royals’ leading scorer. Victoria would put their first goal past Cheveldave at 9:05 on Zane Jones’ fifth of the season. Forward Austin Carroll circled around the net before he crossed a seeing-eye pass to Jones at the right of the net. Jones received the puck and quickly wristed it past the outstretched leg of the Kamloops netminder to make it a 2-1 game. Victoria pulled even with 4:42 remaining in the period. Royals’ rookie Ben Walker burst into the zone and wired a shot from the high slot that eluded Cheveldave and beat him high over the blocker. The marker was Walker’s first WHL goal. The teams skated into the final period tied 2-2.
Kamloops restored their lead at 5:08 of the final frame after Chase Souto drove to the net from the left corner. Souto threw a puck towards the net that redirected onto the stick of Ryan Hanes in the slot who backhanded the puck past a sprawled out Hamilton to give the Blazers a 3-2 lead. Tim Bozon looked to add to the Blazers’ lead before the 10 minute mark after he broke in on a partial breakaway, but a strong defensive stick check by Victoria’s Jesse Pauls negated the scoring chance. Minutes later, Matt Needham would add Kamloops’s fourth at 11:49 after he put a Brendan Ranford pass past Hamilton from the right side of the crease. With just over a minute left in the game, the Royals pulled Hamilton for the extra attacker, but Kamloops held on for the win. Blazers 4 Royals 2.
Victoria went 0/3 = 0.0% on the power play, while Kamloops was 1/3 = 33.3%. The Royals outshot the Blazers 31-29.
The Royals now return home to face off against the Tri-City Americans for two games next week. The first game goes Tuesday, December 6th with game two to follow the next day. Game time for both nights is 7:05 p.m. For further details or to purchase your tickets today, visit the Victoria Royals Ticket Office, www.victoriaroyals.com, or call 250-220-7889.