Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
January 10, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – In an entertaining match-up of two of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Victoria Royals defeated the Portland Winterhawks 3-2 in a shoot-out in Western Hockey League action at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
With the close to 5,000 fans in attendance expecting a close-checking and hard fought battle, the two teams did not disappoint, as both teams would generate early scoring chances on starting goaltenders Coleman Vollrath for Victoria and Corbin Boes for Portland.
Victoria’s Keegan Kanzig (5) drives hard on Portland defender Layne Viveiros (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Portland would jump on the board first when Nic Petan opened the scoring at the 11:12 mark of the first, scoring near the end of a powerplay opportunity. Petan took advantage of a rebound off the chest of Vollrath to bang home his 21st goal of the season.
The Royals Austin Carroll would flip this pass over to Ben Walker who would then score Victoria’s opening goal of the game in the first period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Ben Walker later responded for Victoria with 5:10 left in the opening frame. The Edina, MN native received a pass from Austin Carroll on the right wing before he snapped a shot past the blocker of Boes to even the score at one apiece.
Victoria’s Ben Walker skates ahead of Portland’s Chase De Leo during first period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
On the scoring play, newly-acquired defenceman Travis Brown recorded his first point as a Royal and 39th overall with the second assist. After 20 minutes of play, the teams remained tied.
The two teams exchanged chances in the first five minutes of the second period, but both goaltenders made key saves to keep the game tied. The Royals’ penalty kill unit was put to the test in the period after the club was whistled for three consecutive minor penalties.
Portland’s Domenic Turgeon (23) gets ready to shoot a backhand toward Victoria defender Ryan Gagnon (3) and goaltender Coleman Vollrath in second period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria was able to kill off the first two Portland opportunities, but Brendan Leipsic regained the lead for the Winterhawks on the third with 3:09 left in the middle frame. Leipsic had positioned himself to the left of the Victoria net and took a perfect pass from Petan, one-timing it past Vollrath for his 22nd of the season.
Portland’s Brendan Leipsic (28) would score his 22nd goal of the season to put the Winterhawks up 2-1 during the second period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals received a powerplay chance of their own late, but could not put one past Boes and trailed 2-1 as the teams entered the second intermission.
Steven Hodges notched his ninth goal of the season on a powerplay to even the score for the home side 6:42 into the third period. Brandon Magee threaded a cross-crease feed to Hodges who one-timed the pass into an open net from the bottom of the right face-off circle.
Victoria’s Ben Walker looks to centre the puck from behind the Portland net (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Victoria looked to grab the lead midway through the third as they produced several scoring chances, but Boes was equal to the task. The remainder of regulation solved nothing and the two teams headed to overtime tied at 2-2 for the second time in three meetings this season.
Portland Captain Taylor Leier (20) tries to sneak a wrap-around shot past the toe of Victoria goaltender Coleman Vollrath during the second period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
After a scoreless overtime, the two teams headed to a shootout to determine a winner. The first round saw Victoria’s Ben Walker fail to score before Portland’s Leipsic was denied by a big, left pad save from Vollrath.
Fresh off an appearance with Team Canada at the World Junior, Portland’s Derrick Poulliot would have a pair of assists against the Royals on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the second round, Jack Walker made a move to his backhand and placed a shot high over the glove of Boes to give the Royals an edge. The Winterhawks’ Oliver Bjorkstrand followed up with shot that went just wide.
Hodges was unable to seal the win for Victoria in the third round, but Vollrath turned aside another attempt with a blocker save on Petan to secure two points for the home side.
Portland Captain Taylor Leier (20) looks for a route between Victoria Brandon Magee (background) and Ben Walker (foreground)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The win was the third in three games this season for the Royals over the Winterhawks and ironically all three wins have been by 3-2 scores, and Vollrath has been in net for each of the three games.
The win moves the Royals record to 29-14-0-2 (60 points) moving them three points above the Winterhawks in the point standings, however the Royals remain in third place in the West behind Kelowna (70 points) and Portland because those two teams are the Division leaders. Overall the Royals are the third best team overall in points in the WHL behind Kelowna and Calgary (63 points).
Portland’s Nic Petan (19) would have a goal and an assist in the game against Victoria Friday, his second since returning from the World Junior Championships (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The two Western Conference rivals will go toe-to-toe at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre again tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. as the Royals look for the four-game season sweep of the Winterhawks.