Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 27, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Despite a two-goal night from Logan Nelson, the Victoria Royals dropped a tough 5-4 decision to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes in WHL action Wednesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria.
The Hurricanes blew into town and wasted no time in inflicting damage on the Royals, with the first victim being defenceman Keegan Kanzig, who found himself in an early dust-up with the Hurricanes Josh Derko, both being banished to the penalty box with 5-minute fighting majors.
Victoria’s Jack Walker makes a first-period rush into the Hurricane’s end (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
With Kanzig in the box, the Hurricanes would next take advantage of the Royals defence, blowing through them to score three goals within the next two minutes to send Royals starter Patrick Polivka back to the bench in favour of Coleman Vollrath, the second game in a row Polivka has exited before the game was even eight minutes old.
Victoria’s Steven Hodges carries the puck out from behind his own net during the first period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The first Hurricanes goal came when Jamal Watson accepted a Reid Duke pass in the high slot and one-timed a shot that beat Polivka inside the right post for the 1-0 lead. The second Lethbridge tally came when Brady Ramsay entered the Royals’ zone along the left wing before he centered a pass to Jamien Yakubowski. The Hurricanes’ leading scorer made a move to his backhand and slid the puck under the pads of the Royals’ netminder. Sam McKechnie then extended Lethbridge’s lead to 3-0 with a powerplay strike at 7:11.
Logan Nelson looks to the heavens as he celebrates his first goal against Lethbridge on Wednesday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The third Lethbridge goal seemed to finally wake up the sleeping Royal’s squad, because after that it was all Royals and before the period was out, they would launch 21 shots at Hurricane starter Ty Rimmer, capitalizing on two of them, both from Logan Nelson, with the second on the powerplay, to get back into the game 3-2.
Another nice pose, as Victoria’s Logan Nelson celebrates his second goal on Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals would begin the second much as they ended the first, throwing a number of shots on Rimmer during an early powerplay, and would have much of the momentum going their way, but that was all brought to a screeching halt 4:45 into the period by a devastating hit on the Royals Logan Fisher by the Hurricane’s Captain Graham Hood.
Fisher was absolutely drilled into the boards and glass near the Lethbridge bench by Hood and fell unconscious to the ice where he remained motionless for a number of minutes while the Royals and Hurricane’s medical staff attended to him. While a silenced crowd of 4,231 looked on, Fisher was stabilized and taken off the ice on a backboard and a stretcher. While he was talking to the trainers and moving his hands and feet slightly, an encouraging sign in hits of this nature, his condition and status was not known at press time.
Victoria’s Steven Hodges battles for a face-off in second period action Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
To make matters worse for the Royals, not one of the four officials on the ice, including referees Ryan Benbow and Sean Raphael and linesmen Riley Friesen and Kirk Van Helvoirt, saw the hit and there was no penalty issued on the play. This brought the ire of the crowd, as well as Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry, who made his feelings known to the officials before play resumed.
Lethbridge’s Ty Rimmer comes up with one of his 44 saves, this one off the stick of Victoria’s Jamie Crooks (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The injury to Fisher seemed to motivate the Royals and just under five minutes later while on the powerplay, Jordan Fransoo accepted a pass from Bret Cote at the left faceoff circle and unleashed a wrist shot that whistled over the glove of Rimmer for his sixth tally of the season, tying the game at 3-3.
Jordan Fransoo would score the tying goal for the Royals mid-way through the second period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Adam Henry regained the lead for Lethbridge at the 15:25 mark of the middle frame. Henry crossed the Royals’ blue line alone before he fired a quick shot from the left wing that fooled Vollrath and trickled between his legs. Victoria made a late charge in the period with a five-on-three powerplay, but the Hurricanes held the Royals off and took a 4-3 lead into the second intermission.
Lethbridge increased their lead to 5-3 with a shorthanded effort at 7:19 of the final period. Russell Maxwell broke into the Victoria zone on a two-on-one rush before he fed a pass to Watson who slipped a shot under the left leg of Vollrath for his second goal of the evening.
Victoria’s Brandon Magee looks for a path to the net during the third period Wednesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Late in the game and with the extra attacker on the ice, Victoria pulled to within one goal when Jamie Crooks jammed a shot past Rimmer from the top of the crease with just 27 seconds remaining in the game.
As the final seconds ticked away, the Royals pushed into the Lethbridge zone again and nearly tied the game when Nelson ripped a shot off the left post, but the puck stayed out and the Hurricanes escaped with the 5-4 victory.
Lethbridge’s Jamal Watson (left), with a pair of goals and goaltender Ty Rimmer (right), with 44 saves, were the key players for the Hurricane’s in their 5-4 win over the Royals (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals outshot the Hurricanes 48-29 and deservedly so, the Hurricane’s Ty Rimmer was named the first star for his 44-save performance. The Royals’ Nelson and the Hurricane’s Watson, both with two goals each, were named second and third stars respectively.
Victoria’s next home game is Friday, March 1st when they welcome the Spokane Chiefs to Save-On-Foods Memorial Center for the first of a weekend doubleheader. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.