Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
March 7, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals used three first-period goals and a four-assist night from Ben Walker to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers in Western Hockey League action Friday night at a sold out Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
The Victoria Royals are the 8th place ranked team overall in all of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The Kamloops Blazers are 10th in the Western Conference of the WHL. On Friday night, both teams showed why they sit where they do.
The Royals Ben Walker (10) was a hard man to contain Friday, using his speed to earn assists on each of Victoria’s first four goals (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Returning home after a seven-game road trip, the Royals were warmly greeted by the 7,006 fans in attendance and then promptly came out on fire and overwhelmed the Blazers in period one, launching 15 shots at Blazer starting goalie Bolton Pouliot, while holding Kamloops to just three shots on their goaltender Patrik Polivka. Three of those Royals shots would find the back of the net and the Royals would cruise from there.
Kamloops defenceman Ryan Rehill (left) and Victoria’s Taylor Crunk battle for a loose puck in Friday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Royals speed, particularly that of forward Ben Walker, was just too much for the Blazers to handle, particularly in that first period when Walker would use his speed to earn assists on all three Royals goals.
Victoria’s Tyler Soy looks for a lane to the net during first period action Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The first of these came at the 9:47 mark, on a nifty feed from behind the net to the lanky Axel Blomqvist who tapped in his 23rd goal of the season to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, with the Royals on a powerplay, Walker would earn his second assist of the night, when he flipped a pretty backhand pass to Bret Cote, who was stationed to the side of the Blazer’s net. Cote would make no mistake with the one-timer, putting the Royals up 2-0.
Victoria’s Brandon Magee would score his 24th goal of the season on this wrap-around attempt in the first period Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Before the period was out, Brandon Magee would get his 24th of the season when he picked up a pass behind the net from Walker and skated unimpeded to the front where his wrap-around shot beat Pouliot and gave the Royals a 3-0 lead with 4:48 remaining.
Kamloops defender Ryan Rehill would score the only goal for the Blazers on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The speedy Walker would earn his fourth assist of the night midway through the second period, picking the puck up in his own end and then making an end-to-end, highlight reel rush that ended with a nifty move to the net and a great pass to brother Jack Walker who roofed the puck over Pouliot, putting the Royals up 4-0 at the 11:39 mark.
Kamloops forward Matt Revel makes a rare rush into the Victoria end Friday. The Blazer’s had only 10 shots through the first two periods, finishing with 18 on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Late in the second, the Blazers would finally get on the board with just 12 seconds left when Ryan Rehill would skate in over the blue-line and snap one past Polivka. The shot, being just the Blazer’s 10th of the game clearly surprised Polivka, who may have been napping slightly giving the inactivity, as the Blazers were outshot to that point 28-10.
While he only had to face 18 shots on the night, Victoria goaltender Patrik Polivka came up big on this second period save off the shot from Kamloops’ Matt Revel (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the third, the Royals would let the Blazers know early that they were not happy with that late second period goal, as they would come out with purpose, scoring just 21 seconds into the frame. Taylor Crunk laid a huge hit in the offensive zone before Logan Fisher picked up a loose puck and centered it to Travis Brown who fired a shot over the shoulder of Pouliot to make it 5-1 for the home side.
Victoria defenceman Travis Brown would have a goal and an assist and a +3 rating in the Royals 5-1 win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Kamloops’ best chance in the period came when Deven Sideroff found himself alone in front with 7:30 left in the game, but Polivka denied him with a nice left pad save.
After that, both Polivka and Pouliot would come up big and keep both sides from scoring again, leaving the final at 5-1 Victoria.
Although it did not translate into points on the scoresheet, the Royals’ Taylor Crunk (22) had a strong game against the Blazers on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The win marks the Royals fourth in a row and sixth over the Blazers this season and moves their overall record to 46-17-1-3. With each win, the Royals set a new franchise record, something they will look to do again on Saturday night when they meet these same Blazers in a 7:05 start.