Story and images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
September 26,2014 Victoria, BC (ISN) – It wasn’t quite what the Victoria Royals and the 5527 fans that were in attendance were hoping for on opening night of their 2014-2015 season, but if if there is a brighter side to their 8-2 loss to the Kamloops Blazers at Save-On-Foods Arena Friday night, it’s only game one of a very long WHL season.
Royals Tyler Soy gets a free path to Blazers goalie Bolton Pouliot. Soy would shoot his back hand wide of the net – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Blazers would get on the board early at 1:24 of the first period on a shot by defenseman Josh Connolly that would beat starter Vollrath. Blazers goalie Bolton Pouliot would have to be sharp to keep his team ahead as the Royals would try unsuccessfully to take advantage of three power play opportunities given to them by the visiting team. The game’s first star, Blazers winger Deven Sideroff, would ripple the mesh twice more in the opening frame at 6:27 and 12:43 of the first, as the Blazers would jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Blazers Bolton Pouliot has a little puck-luck as a Royals shot on goal deflects off his shoulder and then the cross bar to stay out of the net – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Taylor Crunk, getting in the kitchen of goalie Bolton Pouliot, played a physical game for his Royals in their home opener Friday night at SOF arena – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Dave Lowry coached Royals, putting on a more determined game face in the second period came out taking the body to the Blazers, perhaps looking shake them off the puck in their own end. Unfortunately, as hockey sometimes goes, that aggressive style of play can lead to penalties as the Royals would experience. With the Royals being called for seven penalties in the second period alone, the Blazers would take advantage of the extra man, peppering Royals back up net minder Pouliot, outshooting the Royals 20-8 in the middle period. With that margin the Blazers would put the puck in the back of the net four more times, three of those on the PP, on goals by Shynkaruk, Kryski, Winther, and Fora. The Royals would go down 7-0 after fourty minutes of play.
Tyler Soy and Blazers Pouliot look on, each hoping to get to the oncoming puck – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Victoria would get on the scoreboard in third period at the 13 second mark when Joe Hicketts, a native of Kamloops, would beat Pouliot with a hard wrister for his first goal of the season. Blazers Cole Ully would reply at 2:08, putting the puck past Vollrath. Royals defenseman Jack Walker would score the games final goal at 5:23 on a shot from just inside the blue line that would beat a screened Pouliot through the pads to trick past the crease. The game would take an uglier note late when Kamloops Blazers 5’11 Patrik Maier would go upstairs on 6’6” Axel Blomqvist, with a check to the head that would put Blomqvist to the ice. Maier would be assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct. Blomqvist would be assisted off the ice. His condition was unknown at post time.
Axel Blomqvist and Blazer’s Luke Harrison wait for the cross-ice pass – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Travis Brown jumps on a loose puck in an attempt to slip it under Pouliot’s pad – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Blazers would take game one of the two game series, with the rematch to be played Saturday at 7:00pm at Save On Foods Arena.