March 22, 2013, Kamloops, BC (ISN) – Friday night marked Game 1 of the 2013 Western Hockey League Playoffs for the Victoria Royals, the sixth seed in the Western Conference,as they travelled to Kamloops to face the third-seeded Blazers at Interior Savings Centre.
The Royals gave Patrik Polivka the start in net, while the Blazers responded with Cole Cheveldave.
The series began with a feverish pace and the Royals were able to open the scoring on a goal by Steven Hodges at 12:25. Victoria won a draw in the Kamloops zone before the Delta, BC native corralled the puck in the slot and quickly backhanded the puck top corner over Cheveldave’s blocker. The Royals’ lead lasted just 34 seconds as Kamloops tied the game with a powerplay goal from Kale Kessy. After a Colin Smith shot was stopped Kessy found the rebound at the top of the crease and banged in the loose puck. Victoria stifled one more Kamloops powerplay attempt before the end of the frame and the score remained tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play.
The Royals began the second period with solid defensive play, but Kamloops took the lead on a man advantage with a goal by JC Lipon at 17:44. Lipon skated to the left face-off circle before he fired a slap shot that beat Polivka under the blocker. Victoria responded quickly as they leveled the game courtesy of a powerplay goal from Hodges at the 18:48 mark. Ben Walker’s shot was stopped, but the rebound bounced to the bottom of the right face-off circle where Hodges potted his second goal of the game into an open cage. The two teams headed into the second intermission tied at two goals apiece.
Kamloops broke the deadlock courtesy of Lipon’s second goal of the night. The Blazers crashed the Royals’ net which caused a scramble in front of Polivka. The puck slid out to the bottom of the right face-off circle where Lipon threaded a shot through a maze of players and the sprawled Victoria goaltender at 4:37. The Royals then created a flurry of chances in the third period, but Cheveldave came up with several key saves to preserve the lead for the home side. Victoria pulled Polivka for the extra attacker in the late stages of the game as the visitors attempted to force overtime. With only seconds left in regulation time the Royals worked the puck to the Blazers’ crease and tried to jam in an equalizer, but time expired during a fierce scramble in front of Cheveldave. Kamloops 3 Victoria 2.
Victoria went 1/3=33.3% on the powerplay, while Kamloops went 2/6=33.3%. The Blazers outshot the Royals 36-24. Kamloops leads the best-of-seven series 1-0.
Victoria will look to even the series tomorrow night with Game 2 scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop in Kamloops once again. The Royals will then return home on Tuesday, March 26 for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Puck drop on Tuesday is set for 7:05 p.m. at Bear Mountain Arena.