Story and Photographs by Glenn Ivens (www.javalon.smugmug.com)
The Victoria Royals and Tri City Americans took to Save On Foods Memorial Centers ice for the second game of their two game set on Wednesday night. The Americans completed the sweep with a 5-3 win.
The Royals gave 17 year old Jared Rathjen a rare start between the pipes and he didn’t disappoint coming up with numerous big saves to keep the Royals in the contest.
“It was nice to get the start I felt calm” remarked Rathjen, “I feel as the season goes on I am getting stronger and more confidant and it showed tonight.”
The Royals opened the scoring on the power play when Logan Nelson beat Tri City’s Eric Comrie at 5:05 of the 1st period. The Americans tied the game 4 minutes later when Adam Hughesman beat Rathjen to the glove side.
Logan Nelson (L) celebrates his 1st period goal with teammates Brandon Magee (C) and Zane Jones (R).
Victoria went back in the lead when Kevin Sundher pounced on a pass from Jamie Crooks and buried his 19th of the season. The Americans’ tied the game back up when Connor Rankin scored his first of the game on the power play with just under 2 minutes left in the 1st period. The teams went into the break tied 2-2 with Tri City holding a 10-7 edge in shots.
Victoria’s Austin Carroll attempts to drive around Tri City’s Derek Ryckman durning Wednesday nights WHL game.
The Royals came out in the 2nd period determined to take the lead back and at 15:58 Zane Jones scored his 7th of the season from a scramble in front of Comrie. The Americans knotted the game at 3 late in the period when Zachary Yuen managed to beat Rathjen on a wrap around. Rathjen came up with some huge saves for the Royals as they were outshot in the period 15-7.
“The goal late in the 2nd period was a tough one for us it not only tied the game but gave them the momentum” commented Royals head coach Marc Habscheid.
Royals’ Kevin Sundher battles in the face off circle with Americans’ Justin Feser during the 2nd period.
The Americans turned up the pressure in the 3rd period when they started to double shift some of their key players and took the lead when Rankin had his pass deflect off a Royals’ skate and past Rathjen for his 2nd goal of the game at 7:59. They would add to their lead when Marcus Messier sniped a shot over the shoulder of Rathjen at 9:25 to put Tri City up 5-3. The Royals continued to push late but some tight defence prevented them from scoring.
Americans’ Brendan Shinnimin fires a wrist shot during Wednesday nights WHL game.
“We did some pretty good things tonight, it was a much better effort as a team” said Sundher, after the game. “We still need to get better with our starts and to push harder when we get the lead.”
Habscheid was pleased with his team’s effort tonight and liked what he saw from Rathjen. “He played well the other night in relief and we need to get him playing so we can develop him I thought he played well tonight.”
Hayden Rintoul of the Victoria Royals carries puck into Tri City Americans zone during WHL game at Save On Foods Memorial Center.
The Royals are back in action Friday night when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ night. Game time is 7:05pm. The Royals will then head out on the road for 6 games before returning home January 3rd against the Calgary Hitmen.
Visit my ISN Gallery to view more images from Wednesday nights game.