Royals Rebound With Shut-Out of Cougars

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Victoria, BC (ISN) – Austin Carroll had a pair of goals and an assist to lead the Victoria Royals to a 4-0 win over the Prince George Cougars in Western Hockey League (WHL) action Sunday afternoon in front of 5,125 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria.

Victoria’s Austin Carroll (21) would have a pair of goals and an assist to lead the Royals to a 4-0 win over Prince George on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win avenged the Royals 4-3 loss to the Cougars on Saturday evening and kept the Cougars from leap-frogging the Royals for second place in the BC Division.

The win was also a solid rebound win for Royals goaltender Coleman Vollrath who posted a 38 save shut-out less than 24 hours after being removed from the game Saturday after surrendering three goals.

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Prince George defenceman Josh Anderson (28) tries to play the puck from the seat of his pants after falling under pressure from the Royals Austin Carroll in first period action Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Also scoring for the Royals was Brandon Fushimi, with his 8th of the season, and Dante Hannoun, with his second. Hannoun also had an assist, while Greg Chase added a pair of assists to give both players a two-point game.

Cougars goaltender Tavin Grant got the start for Prince George and stopped 26 of 30 shots in the losing effort.

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Royals forward Jack Palmer (14) tries to deflect a shot in front of Prince George goaltender Tavin Grant in the first period Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The game started much the same as it did on Saturday night, with the Cougars outplaying the Royals in the first period and outshooting them 14-9. The one big difference is that they could not score and the teams headed to the break tied 0-0.

In the second period, the Royals finally blasted away the post-Christmas rust by scoring four times, the first just 1:36 in when Carroll notched his first on the power play. Carrol’s second came just over three minutes later when he skated off the wing and blasted a shot through Cougar’s starting goaltender Tavin Grant.

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Royals goaltender Coleman Vollrath would make 38 saves in the 4-0 shut-out of Prince George on Sunday. He was named the games first star for his efforts (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

At the 11:08 mark of the period, Fushimi got into the act, converting a pretty pass from Chase to make it a 3-0 game and at 15:32, a defensive end turnover by the Cougars led to the goal by Hannoun to make it 4-0.

In the third period, the Cougars came alive and outshot the Royals 14-8, but they could not get one past Vollrath and the Royals came away with the win, their first in the last six games.

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Prince George Captain Sam Ruopp (2) carries the puck into the Royals end during second period action Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Carroll, his two goals were just the third and fourth of what has been a frustrating month for the big forward, who is well off the 10 goal pace he set in November. In the absence of Brandon Magee, the Royals will need that kind of spark to continue from Carroll in order to have success.

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Prince George’s Sam Ruopp (2) looks for a way around Victoria defenceman Ryan Gagnon (3) in Sunday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was also nice to see Chase chip in with a couple of assists Sunday, as well as notch a goal in Saturday’s game. His two assists give him seven points in the last three games after a three game pointless span and is the kind of scoring that the Royals expected of the skilled forward when they acquired him from Calgary in mid-November.

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Prince George forward Jarri Erricson (15) battles with Victoria defenceman Ryan Gagnon (3) in front of goaltender Coleman Vollrath during a Prince George power play chance in the second period Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Royals continue their home stand in the New Year when they welcome the Spokane Chiefs to town for games on Friday Jan. 2 and Saturday Jan. 3. They then host the Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday Jan. 7 and entertain these same Cougars again on Friday Jan. 9 and Sat. Jan 10. All games are 7:05 pm starts.

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Prince George’s Zach Pochiro (13) skates away from the forecheck of Victoria’s Mitch Skapski during the third period Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Axel Blomqvist (unknown) was not dressed for the Royals on Sunday. The game got chippy near the end, with the Royals’ Austin Carroll receiving a five-minute major for slashing and the Royals Tyler Soy and Cougars Josh Anderson ejected for fighting. The Royals are now 13-2-1-1 when they score four or more goals in a game. The assist by Tyler Soy keeps his hot streak going and he now has six goals and six assists in his last nine games.

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.