by Corey St. Laurent
March 11, 2014, Kelowna, BC (ISN) – On Tuesday night, the Canadian Hockey League’s eighth-ranked Victoria Royals paid a visit to Prospera Place to face the number one-ranked Kelowna Rockets. The Royals gave Patrik Polivka the start between the pipes, while the Rockets countered with Jordan Cooke.
Kelowna’s Tanner Wishnowski opened the scoring early for the home team when his wraparound attempt deflected off a skate at the 2:18 mark and eluded Polivka. The Rockets looked to add to their lead on three first period powerplays, but Victoria’s strong penalty kill kept Kelowna at bay. Late in the frame, Brandon Magee got the Royals on the board. Ben Walker earned a face-off win to the right of Cooke before Magee picked up the puck and fired a snap shot past the glove of the Kelowna netminder at 16:23. After 20 minutes of play, the score remained tied 1-1.
The heated rivalry boiled over early in the second frame as Royals’ forward Logan Fisher engaged with Myles Bell while Taylor Crunk squared off with the Rockets’ Tyrell Goulbourne after a scramble in front of the Victoria net. Each battle was fought to a draw and the physical play continued throughout the frame. The two teams traded powerplay opportunities, but it would be Kelowna to grab the next marker on Cole Linaker’s shorthanded breakaway at 16:45. The Rockets’ 2-1 lead stood after 40 minutes of play.
Victoria blueliner Ryan Gagnon tied the game at the 5:04 mark of the final frame with his second career goal. In the offensive zone, Fisher battled for a loose puck behind the net and found an open Gagnon at the top of the right circle where the Quesnel, BC native sniped a wrist shot over the glove of Cooke for the game’s equalizer. The pace of the game quickened and Axel Blomqvist later gave the Royals their first lead of the game with regulation time winding down. At the 16:40 mark, Jordan Fransoo blasted a shot from the right point that was turned aside by Cooke, but Blomqvist jumped on the rebound and buried it for his 24th goal of the season. The Rockets pulled their netminder for the extra attacker and pressed for the tying goal in the last minute of play, but the Royals finished strong to earn the win and the club’s 100th point of the regular season. Victoria 3 Kelowna 2.
Victoria went 0/6 = 0.0% on the powerplay, while Kelowna went 0/5 = 0.0%. The Royals and Rockets each registered 36 shots on net.
Victoria’s win Tuesday night gave the Royals their first 100-point season in franchise history as well as a 5-2-0-1 season series win over the number one-ranked Rockets. The victory also marked the club’s sixth consecutive win.
The Royals will visit the Pacific Coliseum tomorrow night to face-off against the Vancouver Giants. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Victoria returns to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Friday for their last home game of the regular season before playoffs. Limited tickets for Fan Appreciation Night on Friday against the Everett Silvertips are still available, but moving fast. Fans are encouraged to call 250-220-7777, visit www.victoriaroyals.com or visit the Select Your Tickets box office at their earliest convenience to reserve tickets.
Playoff packages and Royals 2014-15 season tickets are on sale now! Take advantage of our special early bird offer! Receive complimentary tickets for all remaining 2013-14 home games when you place your deposit on season tickets for next season. Current season ticket holders are also eligible for over $6,000 in prizes when they renew their seats before March 14th! Guarantee the BEST seats at the BEST prices with the BEST benefits for all 36 home games by visiting www.victoriaroyals.com or calling 250-220-7889.