Story and Photographs by Glenn Ivens (ISN)
October 13.2012, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals were looking for a bounce back game against the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night after a tough loss on Friday night when nothing seemed to be going right. A 3 point performance from Ben Walker and some gritty, hard nosed hockey from the entire Royals squad gave them just that and led to a 3-2 win.
Saturday’s game had the potential to be a make or break game for a young Royals team. A loss and their confidence could be shattered, a win and it could just be the boost the team needs to go on a tear.
Victoria Royals Alex Gogalev battles through the check of Kelowna Rockets Mitchell Wheaton during Saturday night’s WHL game at Save On Foods Memorial Centre. (photo by Glenn Ivens)
“This was a huge game for us, we needed a response after last nights effort” commented head coach Dave Lowry, “we have a few days off and we need to work on a few things but this makes things a little bit easier to move forward.”
Lowry opted to go with rookie Coleman Vollrath between the pipes and the young netminder didn’t disappoint turning aside 30 shots and making some key saves late in the game to preserve the Royals win.
Coleman Vollrath got his first WHL start and win on Saturday night, recording 30 saves in the Royals 3-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets. (photo by Glenn Ivens)
“It feels great to get the win and I have to give credit to my teammates they were really pushing the pace today” said Vollrath on his 1st WHL win.
The 1st period saw a much improved performance from the night before but the team still didn’t seem to have found it’s groove. The Rockets opened the scoring with a deflection of a Riley Stadel point shot by Rourke Chartier that found the back of the net putting them up 1-0.
The score remained that way as the teams went into the 1st intermission with the Royals being out shot 12-3.
Kelowna’s Jesse Lees attempts a wrap around during the 2nd period of Saturday night’s WHL game against the Victoria Royals. (photo by Glenn Ivens)
A feisty tilt early in the 2nd period between the Royals Tim Traber and Kelowna’s Tyrell Goulbourne may have just been the turning point the Royals needed as they tied the game just over a minute later. Walker got his 1st goal of the night, picking up a loose puck and beating Kelowna starter Jordan Cooke stick side.
The Royals would get into some penalty trouble late in the period, and despite a strong penalty kill by the Royals, the Rockets top scorer Myles Bell would capitalize on a two man advantage, firing a point shot to the top corner past a screened Vollrath at 19:26 of the 2nd period to send the teams into the 2nd intermission with the Rockets up 2-1.
The second period woes the Royals suffered the last two games are a thing of the past, as they out shot the Rockets 11-9 and despite being down by a goal out played Kelowna in all aspects of the game.
Kelowna Rockets Colten Heffley deflects puck wide of net as a Coleman Vollrath fights to see through the screen. (photo by Glenn Ivens)
The Royals continued to build momentum in the 3rd period, and their hard work paid off when Jesse Zgraggen took a Walker pass and sniped it past Cooke to tie the game at 2-2. With the assist Walker completed his “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” – a goal, an assist and a fight.
With less than 3 minutes to play and overtime lingering the Royals turned up the heat and a Tyler Stahl shot from the point, was deflected by Taylor Crunk on the doorstep and Walker pounced on the loose puck and lit the red lamp for the game winner and his 2nd goal of the night.
Victoria Royals Ben Walkers celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night. Walker had two goals on the night and completed a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” by adding an assist and a fight. (photo by Glenn Ivens)
Joe Hicketts was named the games ‘Hardest Working Player’ putting in another fine performance.
“That’s what we expect from Joe, he’s 16 but when he goes on the ice he plays well beyond his years” remarked Lowry after the game.
The Royals now have 4 days off before hosting the Central Division leading Calgary Hitman on Thursday night.