March 17, 2013, Everett, WA (ISN) – In a Saturday night contest at Comcast Arena, the Victoria Royals went up against the Everett Silvertips in their last regular season game of the 2012-13 campaign.
The Royals gave Michael Herringer his first WHL start in net, while the Silvertips countered with Austin Lotz.
Manraj Hayer opened the scoring for Everett at the 6:20 mark of the first period. Hayer picked up a loose puck at the Victoria blue line where he split the defence and made a move to his backhand that beat Herringer between the legs. The Royals pressed hard to even up the score, but the visitors were unable to solve Lotz and the Silvertips held the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Everett took a 2-0 lead 3:55 into the second period on Stathis Soumelidis’ fourth goal of the season. Soumelidis took a slap shot from the left point that deflected off of a defender’s stick and eluded the Victoria netminder. Steven Hodges then brought the Royals within one at 6:44. Taylor Crunk fired a shot on net that was stopped, but the rebound fell to Hodges who was able to stuff home his 28th goal of the season. Brayden Low quickly answered for the Silvertips at 7:15, but less than one minute later Jack Walker pulled the Royals back within one at the 8:13 mark. Tim Traber corralled the puck in the right corner of the Everett zone before he made a cross-crease pass to Walker who snapped home his ninth of the season. After a flurry of goals, the teams settled down defensively and Everett took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Victoria battled for the tying goal throughout the final frame as they put heavy pressure on the Everett defence. The Royals had two powerplay opportunities in the period, but it wasn’t until the 17:37 mark that Logan Nelson struck to even the game. Ben Walker raced down the right wing and picked up the puck behind the Everett net before he spotted Nelson alone in the slot. Nelson let a perfectly placed shot go that beat Lotz high glove side and would send the game to overtime with the score tied 3-3 after regulation.
At the 1:57 mark of the extra frame, Joe Hicketts notched his sixth goal of the season to complete Victoria’s comeback. Nelson picked up a loose puck behind the Everett net before he feathered a pass to Hicketts who had crept into the slot. The rookie defenceman rifled a wrist shot past Lotz to seal the victory and cap off a record-setting regular season for the visitors. Royals 4 Silvertips 3 in overtime.
Victoria went 0/3=0.0% on the powerplay, while Everett went 0/5=0.0%. The Silvertips outshot the Royals 39-38.
With a franchise record 77 points and record of 35-30-2-5, Victoria will now meet the Kamloops Blazers in Round 1 of the WHL Playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Game 1 will take place at Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops on Friday, March 22nd. The Royals will return to the island for Game 3 of the series on Tuesday, March 26th. Games 3,4 and 6 (if necessary) of the series between Kamloops and Victoria will be played at Bear Mountain Arena due to the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.
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