Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
October 6, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Royals enjoyed an early season offensive explosion, as they defeated the visiting Portland Winterhawks 6-2 in Western Hockey League action Monday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria.
Victoria’s Matthew Campese (15) leads a group of happy Royals back to the bench after scoring his first goal of the WHL season in the first period Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The game marked the first meeting between these two teams since Victoria’s exit from the 2013-2014 playoffs at the hands of the Winterhawks, a series that ended with some nastiness on the ice and a resulting 12-game suspension to the Royals Brandon Magee to begin this season.
Victoria’s Jared Dmytriw lets a shot go during first period action against Portland on Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
To say that the Royals did not forget that series over the summer was an understatement. The home side came out hard in the first period and sent a message early via punishing body checks, that they were going to give the Winterhawks all they could handle and exact some revenge for last season.
Victoria forward Austin Carroll (21) would finish with a goal and an assist to earn first star honours in the Royals 6-2 win over Portland on Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Royals physical play paid off around the mid-point of the period when Regan Nagy pounced on a Keegan Kanzig rebound in the slot and buried a forehander past the glove of Portland goaltender Brendan Burke for his first of the season to put the Royals up 1-0, 9:38 in.
Victoria’s Regan Nagy (24) watches as the puck passes by the post and in for his first goal of the season in the first period Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
They would add to that lead at the 14:07 mark when Matthew Campese would notch his first of the season. Campese fired a harmless looking shot off the wing that Burke gloved, or so he thought, as it bounced off his glove and behind him and agonizingly into the net for the 2-0 Royals lead.
Portland’s Alex Schoenborn looks for some space to navigate under the watchful eye of a trio of Royals defenders during second period action Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That lead carried to the end of the period, one in which the Royals outshot the Winterhawks 10-8.
To start the second, the Royals took quick advantage of an early penalty to the Winterhawk’s Keegan Iverson, when Austin Carroll would notch his 4th of the season, scoring from in close to put the Royals up 3-0.
Portland’s Miles Koules (left) and Victoria’s Chaz Reddekopp (right) pursue a loose puck during the second period Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Over the next ten minutes, both teams would trade opportunities, as well as powerplay chances, but it would be the Royals who would strike next, in a 4-on-4 situation, on perhaps the prettiest goal of the night. Carroll brought the puck into the zone and slipped it to a streaking Joe Hicketts, who made a nifty deke around Burke, putting the puck in the net and then doing his best Bobby Orr impression, diving over the goaltender at the finish and bringing the crowd of 3,791 to its feet.
Portland’s Nic Petan (right) pokes the puck away from Royals defenceman Jake Kohlhauser during second period action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The 4-0 lead was enough for Portland Head Coach Jamie Kompon and he yanked the shaky looking Burke from the nets in favour of backup Adin Hill.
Hill managed to stem to tide for some time, but as the clock ran down to the buzzer, Mitch Skapski would score his first of the season with 23 seconds remaining to send the Royals into the second break leading 5-0 and holding a 22-18 lead in shots on goal.
Royals goaltender Coleman Vollrath (right) peers around the screen set by Portland’s Paul Bittner (7) and the Royals Keegan Kanzig (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
In the third period, the Winterhawks that we all know and love decided to show up, as they finally solved Royals starter Coleman Vollrath, scoring two quick goals and getting themselves back in the game. Striking first was Oliver Bjorkstrand with his second of the season just 2:46 into the frame. That was followed less than a minute later by Anton Cederholm’s second of the year.
Royals goaltender Coleman Vollrath would stop 25 of 27 shots in the Royals 6-2 win Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
That prompted a quick timeout from Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry which seemed to do the trick, as the Royals managed to minimize the damage and keep the ‘Hawks off the score sheet the rest of the way.
Portland’s Miles Koules (12) and Victoria’s Kristian Ferletak (10) battle for the puck during the third period Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
A powerplay marker by Royals defenceman Jack Walker at the 13:11 mark of the period rounded out the scoring and put a little extra icing on the cake, as the Royals cruised the rest of the way to the 6-2 win.
Portland centre Skyler McKenzie (43) curls to avoid the forecheck of Victoria’s Jared Dmytriw during Monday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
For the Royals it was just their second win of the young season against four losses and one overtime loss. They now sit tied for 7th place in the Western Conference with Spokane, but just a point behind both Tri-City and Prince George. The struggling Winterhawks fall to 1-6-0-1 and occupy last place in the West.
Victoria forward Logan Fisher gets off a backhand shot during third period action Monday against Portland (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Royals now hit the road for a six game road trip that will take them to Calgary, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Kootenay before returning home for their next home game on Friday October 24th when they face the Vancouver Giants. Puck drop for that one is 7:00 pm.
Victoria native Brendan DeJong made his hometown WHL debut with the Winterhawks on Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: Victoria outshot Portland 33-27. Portland was 0 for 5 on the powerplay. Victoria’s Austin Carroll was the game’s first star, with Ryan Nagy second and Joe Hicketts third. The game marked the hometown WHL debut of Portland defenceman and Victoria native Brendan DeJong who played his minor hockey at Saanich and Juan De Fuca and most recently with the Pacific Sea Devils Elite 15 team. DeJong was drafted in the 7th round of the WHL draft in 2013 and signed with the ‘Hawks for this season.