With Photos by Erich Eichhorn

Victoria (ISN) – A huge 4-3 win by the Victoria Royals over the Portland Winterhawks, combined with a 4-2 loss by the Everett Silvertips to Kelowna on Wednesday night, has once again vaulted the Royals into 7th place in the tight race for the last two playoff positions in the WHL’s Western Conference.

In a Wednesday night matchup in front of a sold-out Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the Victoria Royals faced off against the Portland Winterhawks in the first of a two-game set. In net for the Royals was Keith Hamilton while Portland gave the nod to Mac Carruth.

Victoria opened the scoring on the powerplay after Ben Walker and Zane Jones played give-and-go behind the Winterhawks’ net. Jones then dished the puck to Austin Carroll in front who shoveled home his eighth goal of the season at 4:45.

The Royals Brett Cote attempts to keep the Winterhawks Brendan Leipsic to the outside as he battles for the puck – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)


Portland made it 1-1 following a turnover in the Royals’ zone which landed on the stick of Ty Rattie. Portland’s forward made a quick move to his right and slipped the puck through the legs of Hamilton.

The Winterhawks would add to their lead just 19 seconds later when Taylor Leier collected his own rebound and poked the puck up over the right shoulder of Hamilton. After 20 minutes the Winterhawks led 2-1.

Royals forward Dakota Conroy would nearly get a close shave as he dumps Portland’s Marcel Noebels – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Victoria made it 2-2 on an individual effort when Steven Hodges stickhandled his way through the offensive zone and fired a backhand on net. Jamie Crooks jumped on the rebound and slapped the loose puck short side and over the right shoulder of Carruth.

Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth would find himself on the loosing end of the ice Wednesday night as his team would drop a decision against a determined Victoria Royals team. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

At 13:23 of the middle frame, Victoria’s Jones took advantage of a turnover on the Portland blueline and broke in all alone on Carruth. The forward made no mistake when he fired the puck over the right shoulder of the Winterhawks’ netminder. The Royals held a 3-2 lead heading into the final period of play.

Portland tied the game when Troy Rutkowski centered a shot from the right corner that deflected off of Oliver Gabriel and into the back of the net at 2:36 of the third period.

Victoria Royals #4 Jordan Fransoo played a strong game in front of his goalie Keith Hamilton dumping Oliver Gabriel of the Winterhawks – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Victoria regained the lead at 13:14 after Logan Nelson stole the puck at the Portland blueline. On a two-on-one, Nelson crossed a pass to Hodges, who finished off the play to make it 4-3. The Royals held off a furious late period push by the Winterhawks to seal the victory. Royals 4 Winterhawks 3.

Victoria went 1/3 = 33.3% on the power play, while Portland was 0/2 = 0.00%. The Winterhawks outshot the Royals 35-19.

Royals Steven Hodges, scoring the winning goal, would be selected the games 2nd star on the night in a 4-3 win over the Portland Winterhawks – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Victoria finishes their regular season schedule on Friday, March 16th with the second of two against the Portland Winterhawks. Game time is set for 7:05 at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Friday night’s game will also mark the seventh sell-out for the Royals this season. For further details or to purchase your Playoff tickets today, visit the Victoria Royals Ticket Office, www.selectyourtickets.com/victoriaroyals, e-mail vrtickets@victoriaroyals.com. or call 250-220-7889.

D-Man Jesse Zgraggen trips up a Winterhawk at the blueline – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )