Story and Photographs by Glenn Ivens (www.javalon.smugmug.com)
A sold out crowd of 7006 was on hand at Save On Foods Memorial Centre for the Victoria Royals ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night. They would not leave disappointed as the Royals scored 4 times in the 3rd period to finish the 2011 home schedule with an 8-5 win.
The Royals got out to a slow start with the Hurricanes staking a 2-0 lead off goals from Juraj Bezuch and Jaimen Yakubowski before the Royals’ Zane Jones tipped a Ben Walker shot past the Hurricanes’ Liam Liston at 18:11 to cue the Teddy Bear down pour.
The Victoria Royals celebrate Zane Jones goal as the Teddy Bears rain down.
With just less than 2 minutes to play in the period the officials sent the teams to the dressing room as the teddy bears were collected and the ice resurfaced.
The Royals went right back to work and Sundher tallied his 20th of the season just 46 seconds after the break to finish the 1st period tied 2-2.
“We seemed to get inspired after the Teddy Bear Toss goal and we were able to work through and find some timely goals. We still have some work to do but we got a needed win tonight at home” said Royals’ leading scorer Kevin Sundher.
Shawnigan Lake product Cam Braes battles with Victoria’s Kevin Sundher at the face off dot.
Victoria took a 3-2 lead early into the 2nd period when Sundher notched his 2nd of the game banging home a pass from Jones at 1:38. Lethbridge would tie the game shorthanded when Brady Ramsay intercepted a pass in the slot and beat Victoria’s Keith Hamilton to the stick side.
Keith Hamilton gets his pad out to stop scoring attempt by Hurricanes Sam Mckechnie during 2nd period.
The Hurricanes went back in front less than a minute later when Jay Merkley tallied a power play marker. Jamie Crooks would get the Royals back to even collecting a rebound in front and depositing it in the back of the net. Brody Sutter, son of former NHLer Duane Sutter, put the Hurricanes back on top at 14:03. The Royals looked to have tied the game at 5-5 in the waning seconds of the period but the referee immediately waved the goal off and under review it was determined that the horn had sounded to end the period before the puck crossed the line.
The Royals regrouped during the break and came out on fire in the 3rd period. They would tie the game 46 seconds in off a tic tac toe passing play between Hayden Rintoul, Sundher and Crooks while on the power play. Brandon Magee would add what turned out to be the game winning goal less than a minute later when he found his own rebound in the crease and poked it through Liston’s legs.
Victoria’s Logan Nelson gets set to fire shot on net against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night.
Crooks completed the hat trick snapping a shot over Liston’s shoulder at 3:51 to stake a 7-5 Royals lead. The Hurricanes pulled Liston after the goal replacing him with Damien Ketlo. The officials seemed determined to give the Hurricanes every opportunity to get back in the game when they gave them three consecutive power plays on some questionable calls but it was the Royals who would capitalize. Steven Hodges was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway and he made no mistake firing a shot to the upstairs on Ketlo for the 8-5 win.
Steven Hodges was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down by Lethbridge’s Nick Buonassisi.
“It felt good to get the hat trick” remarked Crooks, “Our line played well tonight, we got off a little slow but came back in the 2nd with an early goal and continued to roll from there. We need to try and build off the 3rd period tomorrow in Seattle and try get on a roll before the Christmas Break.”
Head coach Marc Habscheid was happy with win but still had some concerns with the team’s performance. “We had no jump in the 1st period and they outworked us, we got better in the 2nd and 3rd but we need to work from start to finish” said Habscheid “It was an ugly game but I’ve learned to not be upset with a win.”
The Royals head out on the road for 4 games before the Christmas break and aren’t back at Save On Foods Memorial Centre until January 3rd when they host the Calgary Hitmen.