Royals take down Rockets


by Corey St. Laurent

February 8, 2014, Kelowna (ISN) – Saturday night saw the Victoria Royals visit the league-leading Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place. The Royals gave Coleman Vollrath the start in net, while the Rockets countered with Jordon Cooke.

The two teams exchanged powerplay opportunities early in the game, but it was Carter Rigby that struck first for the Rockets at the 7:48 mark. Tyson Baillie then added to Kelowna’s lead to make it a two-goal game at 9:29. Axel Blomqvist put the Royals on the board at the 16:16 mark with a great individual effort. On a man advantage, Blomqvist powered down the left wing and cut hard to the net around a defender before he beat Cooke with a backhanded deke. The Rockets held on to the 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Jordan Fransoo tied the game for Victoria 8:38 into the season period. Fransoo rifled a hard shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net. Kelowna regained the lead at the 11:25 mark on a goal by Colton Heffley. The Royals would not go away as Austin Carroll responded just 24 seconds later. Joe Hicketts found Carroll open in front of the net where the Scottsdale, AZ native placed a shot high over the glove of Cooke. Each club killed off a penalty in the late stages of the frame and the game was tied 3-3 at the second intermission.

Just 4:29 into the third period, Steven Hodges gave the Royals their first lead of the night. Hodges let a long shot fly from the left wing that Cooke got a piece of before the puck trickled across the goal line. Logan Nelson then gave Victoria a two-goal advantage 25 seconds later. Nelson took a feed from Ben Walker at the left face-off dot before he sniped a snap shot short side on Cooke. The frantic pace continued and Nick Merkley made it a 5-4 game when he potted a goal for the Rockets at the 5:34 mark. Kelowna applied heavy pressure in the third stanza, but Vollrath stood tall and the Royals clamped down defensively as they killed off all eight shorthanded situations faced in the contest. The Rockets pulled Cooke for the extra attacker late, but Hodges buried an empty-netter to seal the win and give the Royals their third win in Kelowna this year. The victory also gave Victoria 78 points on the season, a new single season franchise record. Victoria 6 Kelowna 4.

Victoria went 1/6= 16.7% on the powerplay, while Kelowna went 0/8= 0.0%. The Royals outshot the Rockets 43-34.

The Royals will now head to Vancouver to take on the Vancouver Giants on Monday afternoon at the Pacific Coliseum. The puck is set to drop at 2:00 p.m. on Family Day. The Royals’ next home game will take place on Wednesday, February 12th at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre when they host the Tri-City Americans for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.

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