by Corey St. Laurent, Photos: Erich Eichhorn
January 17, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – The top two clubs in the B.C. Division collided at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday night as the Victoria Royals hosted the Kelowna Rockets. The Royals gave Patrik Polivka the start in net, while the Rockets countered with Jordan Cooke.
Victoria went to the body early in the game to set the physical tone, but Kelowna’s Nick Merkely opened the game’s scoring at 9:55 of the first period.
Royals Patrik Polivka would stand on his head in game one against the top Kelowna Rockets. Polivka denies Rockets Olsen on the doorstep Friday night. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Royals answered back less than two minutes later on Travis Brown’s first goal as a Royal at the 11:14 mark. Brandon Magee threw a backhanded shot on net that was turned aside by Cooke, but Brown pounced on the rebound and snapped it over the netminder’s glove to even the score. Steven Hodges then gave the home team the lead at 16:22 when he recorded his 10th goal of the season.
Royals #21 Austin Carroll races for the puck possession against the Rockets winger Myles Bell – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Cooke stopped Axel Blomqvist’s shot from the bottom of the right circle, but Hodges buried another rebound from the low slot and the Royals held a 2-1 edge after 20 minutes of play.
Steven Hodges celebrates his goal as Rockets goalie Cooke looks to the rafters for an answer. Hodges would find the puck on his stick after a rebound given up on a Blomqvist shot attempt. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The second stanza was a goaltending showcase as both teams traded scoring chances. Victoria’s powerplay went to work midway through the frame, but Cooke was sharp in the Rockets’ cage. In the final minute of the period, each team came close to striking. Hodges set up Magee alone in the slot, but Kelowna’s Carter Rigby got his stick in the way to deny the chance. The Rockets then transitioned the puck back into the Royals’ zone where a shot from the point squeaked past Polivka. Defenceman Keegan Kanzig cleared the puck before it crossed the goal line to maintain the Royals’ 2-1 lead at the second intermission.
Polivka saw the puck well most of the night, only missing on one that got behind the goal line- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Royals increased their lead when Hodges notched his second goal of the game on a two-man advantage at 5:57 of the final frame. The Yellowknife, NWT native flew down the left wing and snapped shot that cleanly beat Cooke short side.
The always dangerous Steven Hodges is upended as he tries to stick handle the puck between two Rockets d-men, drawing a tripping penalty- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Tempers flared midway through the period after the Royals’ Taylor Crunk delivered a big body check on Tyson Baillie then dropped the gloves with Tyrell Goulbourne for a spirited bout. The Rockets continued to attack, but were repeatedly denied by the efforts of Polivka. Kelowna pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with two minutes to play, but were unable to draw any closer as the Royals went on to earn two crucial points. VIC 3 KEL 1.
Steven Hodges celebrates his goal with new returnee Logan Nelson. The Royals are looking for big things from Nelson’s return to the lineup- Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Victoria went 1/4 = 25.0% on the powerplay, while Kelowna went 0/1 = 0.0%. The Rockets outshot the Royals 35-27.
A stiff body check by Taylor Crunk would lead to this battle as Crunk gets an early couple of shots in before Rockets Tyrell Goulbourne would answer with a stiff right of his own – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Victoria will conclude their two-game home series against the CHL’s number one ranked team tomorrow night at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre when the host Kelowna once again. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game also marks the club’s third annual Defence Team Appreciation Night as the Royals pay tribute to our servicemen and women.
We are Royal Blue, are you? 2013-14 season ticket, mini-plan and group packages are now available! To guarantee yourself the best seats at the best prices call 250-220-7889, visit www.victoriaroyals.com, or head down to the Victoria Royals Ticketing Office located at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Kids Club memberships, for fans 12 years and younger, are also available for only $20 and include four child tickets, a t-shirt, newsletters from Marty the Marmot and much more!