Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

December 8, 2013 Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals dropped their final home game of 2013, splitting a two game weekend series Saturday night against the Vancouver Giants loosing by a7-4 margin at Save On Foods Arena in front of 5,019 fans.

On a night set aside for their Annual Teddy Bear Toss Night charity, the Royals looking to be less than charitable to the eight place Western Conference rival Vancouver Giants, were hoping to take away a total four of four possible points in the series and open up a Giant 8 point lead in the standings, keeping pace with the top three conference leaders.

Royals Ben Walker, with one goal and an assist Saturday night, is surrounded by a Giant’s defense – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

In the final home game of the year, the Royals would jump out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Austin Carroll, on a feed from Logan Nelson and Ben Walker at 3:51 of the first period. The Royals would dominate late in the first period with a physical game that would free up Steven Hodges, scoring his first of two goals on the evening, to put the Royals up 2-0. The Giants would cache in on the Royals physical game late in the period when Ben Walker would take a goalie interference penalty. The Giants Trevor Lofthouse, would beat the Royals Patrik Polivka to a loose puck late in the period to score on the power play to pull to within a goal. The period would finish with the Royals up 2-1.

Starting goalie Patrik Polivka would be assigned to the bench in the second period on four goals allowed while between the pipes on Saturday. – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

The Royals would continue to be penalized for their spirited play in the second frame, having a seat in the “sin-bin” on three consecutive penalties. The Giants, making the Royals pay for their “enthusiasm”, would explode on the home team, scoring five unanswered goals to jump out to a commanding 6-2 lead. The Royals Polivka would be chased from the goal after the Giants 4th goal on the night, giving way to Royals back up net minder Coleman Volrath.

Back up goalie Coleman Volrath kicks the toe out to make the save. The Royals would be out shot by a 43-33 margin on the night – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

In the third period the Victoria Royals, playing with a renewed sense of urgency, and playing noticeably faster style of game, would find success in the power play scoring touch of Ben Walker, beating the Giants Net minder Payton Lee from the slot on an assist from Brandon Magee, to bring the score a goal closer with just over 5 minutes remaining.

Austin Carroll gets the shot off on goalie Payton Lee after Giants Centre Joel Hamilton fails to slow him down – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

Steven Hodges would add to his nights totals after scoring unassisted, taking his own faceoff puck and dance out in front of Lee to beat him high on the glove side to pull his Royals team within two goals with just over 5 minutes remaining. The Vancouver Giants defense would shut down the Royals the remainder of the game, adding one more power play marker on a Royal “too many men” infraction in the dying seconds of the game to take the game by a 7- 4 margin.

Royals Steven Hodges plays keep away with the puck while two Giants try to knock him off stride. Hodges would be the second star on the night with two goals. – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

Victoria went 1/4= 25.0% on the power play, while Vancouver went 3/6= 50.0%. The Royals were outshot 43-33.

The Royal’s Hodges was voted second star of the game scoring two goals in the Royals loss.

Royals Steven Hodges would keep the faceoff puck himself and beat netminder Lee for his second goal on the night – Erich Eichhorn image ( )

The two teams will meet again on Tuesday in Vancouver on the first of five road games for Victoria that will see them travel to Saskatchewan to face Swift Current, then on to Alberta to take on Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Edmonton before the Christmas break.