by Corey St. Laurent
March 27, 2014, Spokane, WA (ISN) – The Victoria Royals had a chance to wrap up their Western Conference Quarter-Final series with the Spokane Chiefs on Thursday night as they squared off for Game 4 at Veterans Memorial Arena. The Royals gave Patrik Polivka the start in goal for the fourth consecutive game, while the Chiefs again countered with Eric Williams.
Spokane controlled much of the play in the early stages of the game, but Polivka kept the home team off the scoreboard and Jordan Fransoo gave the Royals a lead with 5:12 left in first period. Fransoo fired a shot from the point through traffic just as a Victoria powerplay had expired to record his second goal in as many nights and give the Royals an edge. Tyson Helgesen responded for the Chiefs with his first career WHL goal. Helgesen jumped on a loose puck with just 57 seconds left in the first period to even the score. The Royals would quickly respond 20 seconds later when Ben Walker flew down the right wing, beat a defender and snapped a shot high on Williams to give Victoria a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Spokane pushed hard to tie the game early in the second period and Polivka had to be sharp to keep the Royals up by one goal. Late in the frame, Axel Blomqvist broke down the right wing on a partial break and nearly gave Victoria a two-goal lead, but Williams denied the effort with a right pad save. Victoria maintained their 2-1 lead as the two clubs headed to the second intermission.
The Royals’ penalty kill unit was tested early in the third period when the Chiefs received a two-man advantage early in the frame. Victoria would kill off the penalties, but Spokane tied the game soon after when Connor Chartier tipped Helgesen’s shot past Polivka with 16:28 remaining in regulation. The Royals bounced back and later regained the lead on Austin Carroll’s third goal of the post-season. Ryan Gagnon outwaited a sliding Chiefs’ defender on a two-on-one before he fed a pass to Carroll that the Scottsdale, AZ native lifted over Williams with 9:54 left in the third period. Spokane fought back again, but Logan Nelson added another for the Royals to make it 4-2 with 4:19 to play. Carroll rushed down the left wing and hit Nelson with a pass before the 20-year-old deked around Williams and gave Victoria a two-goal edge. The Chiefs pulled Williams for an extra attacker with over two minutes remaining, but the Royals clamped down on defence to earn a Game 4 win and the series sweep. Royals 4 Chiefs 2.
Victoria went 0/4 = 0.0% on the powerplay, while Spokane went 0/3 = 0.0%. The Chiefs outshot the Royals 34-21.
With the win, the Royals recorded the first WHL Playoffs series win in franchise history. This was the franchise’s seventh appearance in the WHL Playoffs.
Patrons who purchased tickets for Game 5 of Round A (Home Game 3) have until April 2nd to trade in their tickets for Home Game 1 of Round B (packages excluded) at the Select Your Tickets box office.
Single game tickets for Round B are on sale now at the Select Your Tickets box office and start at just $13 while playoff packages are also available! Dates, times and opponents are still to be determined. Tickets are available at www.victoriaroyals.com, by phone at 250-220-7777 or in-person at the Select Your Tickets box office.