Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
November 22, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals scored four third period goals to break open a close game and go on to a 6-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers in Western Hockey League action Friday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
The Royals started the red-hot Patrik Polivka in net and for the third straight game, he was incredible, earning first star honours once again, most notably for his work in a first period that saw the Blazers come out flying and outshoot the Royals 17-8.
Victoria Royals defenceman Jake Kolhauser clears the puck away from Kamloops Blazer Tyson Ness dring first period action Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Polivka was outstanding in the period, with perhaps his biggest save of coming when he used all of his 6’0″ frame to stretch across to his left and get a glove and toe on a glorious back door scoring chance by the Blazers’ Aspen Sterzer.
Victoria Royals goaltender Patrik Polivka makes a huge save to deny Blazers forward Aspen Sterzer this first period scoring opportunity (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Meanwhile, the Royals’ best chance of the frame came when Brandon Magee rushed down the wing and fired a wrist shot that beat Blazer’s starter Taran Kozun, but deflected off the goal post.
The Royals’ penalty kill was challenged late in the first when they were tasked with a five-on-three disadvantage, but Polivka helped the unit keep the game a scoreless draw after 20 minutes.
Kamloops Blazer’s forward Cole Ully tries to get by the Royals’ Jack Palmer during the Royals 6-1 win Friday evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria finally opened the scoring at the 15:21 mark of the second period. Ryan Gagnon’s shot from the point deflected off of Logan Fisher and Taylor Crunk buried the loose puck to tally his first goal of the season.
The Royals’ Logan Nelson streaks into the Blazers zone under the watchful ey of Kamloops forward Joe Kornelsen and teammate Austin Carroll (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Less than one minute later, the Royals added to their lead. Logan Nelson fired a backhand shot on net that Kozun stopped, but Ben Walker slipped the rebound over the goal line to give Victoria a two-goal lead.
Kamloops defenceman Josh Connolly skates away from the check of the Royals’ Taylor Crunk during Friday’s WHL action in Victoria (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals had two other great chances in the period denied by Kozun, the first when Brandon Magee narrowly missed a backhand opportunity at the front of the net and the second when Kozun denied the speedy Ben Walker on another close-in chance.
Victoria’s Brandon Magee was denied this great scoring chance thanks to Kamloops’ goalie Taran Kozun (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Blazers would respond before the period was out as Chase Souto managed to sneak one past Polivka with one second left in the period and the Royals held a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
Kamloops forward Joe Kornelsen looks for the puck a she heads into the corner in front of a Royals defender (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Just when it appeared that the Blazer’s, winless in their last even games, would make a game of it, the Royals regained their two-goal lead 5:10 into the final stanza when Brandon Magee snapped a shot over the glove of Kozun.
Kamloops forward Aspen Sterzer skates the puck away from the front of his net during action against the Victoria Royals on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Just 34 seconds later, Nelson made a nifty spin move in the slot and slid the puck past Kozun’s left pad to give the Royals a 4-1 lead. Bolton Pouloit then relieved Kozun of his duties in the Blazers’ crease.
Victoria’s Logan Nelson (centre) celebrates his third period goal with teammates Keegan Kanzig (left) and Ben Walker (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
At the 7:54 mark, Austin Carroll converted on a powerplay breakaway to stretch the home team’s advantage. The Royals didn’t stop and a good effort by newly-acquired Axel Blomqvist behind the net saw the forward give a perfect feed to Brandon Fushimi in the slot that he wired past Pouliot and into the top corner at 12:25.
Royals’ newcomer Axel Blomqvist – who is signed by the Winnipeg Jets – made his presence known Friday by adding an assist on Brandon Fushimi’s third period goal (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Polivka continued his strong play in net and the Royals held on the rest of the way for the commanding victory.
Victoria went 1/4 = 25.0% on the powerplay, while Kamloops went 0/3 = 0.0%. The Blazers outshot the Royals 35-33.
The Royals and Blazers will conclude their two-game set tomorrow evening at 7:05 p.m. at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.