Winterhawks Use Quick Start to Defeat Royals

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

December 2, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Portland Winterhawks scored four goals in the first period Tuesday and then hung on for a 6-4 win over the Victoria Royals in Western Hockey League action at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria.

Victoria’s Axel Blomqvist looks for a wrap-around attempt in the first period Tuesday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Chase DeLeo, Alex Schoenbom, Keoni Texeira, Dominic Turgeon, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nic Petan (into an empty net) had the goals for Portland, while Travis Brown, with a pair, Tyler Soy and Brandon Magee responded for the Royals.

Adin Hill stopped 28 of 32 shots to get the win for the Winterhawks, while the Royals Jayden Sittler stopped 21 of 23 in the losing effort. Collman Vollrath began the game for the Royals but was pulled just 6:06 into the game after allowing three goals on just seven shots.

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Portland’s Keoni Texeira (44) and Victoria’s Tyler Soy (17)  battle for a loose puck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Winterhawks have now won six games in a row and eight of their past ten, climbing up in the standings to now sit second in the U.S. Division, three points back of Everett and two points ahead of third place Spokane. The Royals fall to 15-14-2 and remain in second place in the BC Division, well behind first place Kelowna.

The Royals found themselves in trouble early Tuesday, as the powerful Winterhawks powerplay went to work just 1:59 in on a penalty to Jack Walker. After peppering 4 shots at Vollrath with the man advantage, Chase DeLeo was finally able to stuff one in at 3:43 to give the ‘Hawks the 1-0 lead.

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Portland’s Anton Cederholm (2) and Victoria’s Logan Fisher (20) look for a loose puck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

That goal seemed to rattle Vollrath and on the next Winterhawks shot, from Alex Schoenbom, he waved weakly at the puck , having it glance off his glove and into the net for the 2-0 lead just 5:22 in. Another goal, this one from Keoni Texeira just 44 seconds later made it 3-0 and spelled the end of the night for Vollrath, who was replaced by Jayden Sittler.

That move seemed to pay off, as the Royals kept the pressure on and at 14:03, Travis Brown picked up a loose puck in centre ice, skated in and fired a laser past Portland goalie Adin Hill to get the Royals on the board.

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Travis Brown had a pair of goals for the Royals, including their first of the game on this shot in the first period (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Winterhawks would respond immediately however, as Dominic Turgeon would sneak a weak one through the 5-hole of Sittler just 45 seconds later to restore the Winterhawks 3-goal lead.

Credit the Royals without giving up though, out-shooting Portland 16-13 for the period and getting a late powerplay goal from Tyler Soy with 1:10 remaining to put the Royals down by two into the first break.

They kept things rolling in the second and Brown would net his second of the game at the 4:26 mark to pull the Royals within one. The game would settle down after that, and that 4-3 score would carry into the third period, with the Royals leading on the shot clock 24-23.

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Victoria’s Jared Dmytriw (27) looks to get past Portland defenceman Brendan DeJong (21) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the third, the Royals kept working hard and were rewarded when Brandon Magee, just back from a 5-game suspension, cruised into the slot and put a backhand past Hill to tie the game 4-4 at the 8:31 mark. Right after that the Royals went back on the powerplay with a prime opportunity to take the lead, but instead it was the Winterhawk’s Oliver Bjorkstrand who scored his 100th careeer WHL goal shorthanded to restore Portland’s 1-goal lead with 9:35 left to play.

The Royals continued to press, with the best chance coming when Brown hit the crossbar with just minutes remaining and then pulling the goalie with just over a minute to go and seeing Hicketts hit the post before Nic Petan scored into the empty net with five seconds to go to seal the 6-4 win for Portland.

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Brandon Magee returned from a 5 game suspension and had a goal and an assist for the Royals (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry was disappointed with the start of his team Tuesday. “We really have to look how we started this game. We have to be better prepared,” said Lowry following the game. “I didn’t like how we started. Perhaps we deserved more given how we came back, but we have to learn from this, it was a good lesson. If you spot a team like Portland that many goals, it’s hard to come back from that. We have to be better prepared. On the first shift we had an open net and missed. It’s a different game if that goes in. We have to come on to the ice every game ready to bear down and ready to execute.”

The Royals will look to get back in the win column on Friday night when they host the Saskatoon Blades on Friday. Puck drop at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena is 7:05 pm.

Game Notes: Attendance Tuesday was 3,779. Tyler Soy (with his 100th) and Taylor Crunk (with his 200th) hit milestones Tuesday for games played in the WHL. Brandon Magee was back in the line-up Tuesday after serving his second suspension of the season. Greg Chase played in his seventh game as a Royal and with his assist, now has three goals and two assists with the club.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.