Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 9, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Edmonton Oil Kings deserved better. Much better. They came into Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Monday afternoon and outshot the Victoria Royals 35-22, dominating play for most of the game, but it was the Royals who escaped with a 2-1 win in front of a large Family Day holiday crowd of nearly 6,000 people in Victoria.
Victoria’s Brandon Magee (18), playing in his 300th game with the Royals franchise, looks to pass under pressure from the Oil King’s Ashton Sautner (5)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Royals can thank goaltender Justin Paulic for the win, as he was solid throughout, stopping all but one of the 35 shots the Oil Kings threw at him, the only damage being a rebound goal by Mads Eller in the second period. Paulic was rewarded with the game’s first star for his efforts and secured his 10th win of the season, four of which have now been with the Royals.
Victoria’s Logan Fisher (20) looks to beat Edmonton’s Blake Orban (4) to a loose puck (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Paulic was particularly steady in the opening period, when the Oil Kings were all over the Royals, outshooting them 17-7 in the frame.
The Royals can also thank Jack Palmer and Austin Carroll, who were the only two players to put one past Oil Kings goaltender Patrick Dea, who played well in the losing effort.
Victoria goaltender Justin Paulic (1) stops one of the 35 shots that he saw, while Edmonton’s Mads Eller (20) and Victoria’s Travis Brown (6) create traffic in front of him (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Palmer scored just his fourth goal of the season at the 7:58 mark of the first period, banging home a rebound to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
After Eller tied things up for the Oil Kings just 1:59 into the second, on a power play marker, Carroll restored the Royals lead at 12:55, scoring what turned out to be the game winning goal, on a wrist shot that Dea got an arm on, but not enough to keep it out.
Victoria defenceman Ryan Gagnon (3) tries to keep Edmonton’s Brandon Baddock (13) at a distance from goaltender Justin Paulic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Royals Head Coach Dave Lowry recognized his team was not at it’s best, but was proud that they found a way to win. “Tonight we were not at our best but we found a way to win a hockey game. For the last 15 games our team has played extremely well and the kids have done a great job at competing, especially in games where we have not been playing well and it has helped us win some close games.”
Victoria’s Logan Fisher (20) battles to get to a loose puck with Edmonton’s Edgars Kulda (23)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The win was the Royals 30th of the season and 13th since the Christmas break, having posted a 13-3-1-0 mark in that time, one of the top marks in the WHL. The Royals stay locked into second in the BC Division with 64 points, well behind division leading Kelowna (88 points) and well ahead of third place Kamloops (48 points).
Victoria defenceman Travis Brown (6) wrestles with Edmonton’s Mads Eller (20) in front of goaltender Justin Paulic. Eller would break loose to score the Oil Kings only goal just seconds later (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The loss drops Edmonton, last year’s Memorial Cup Champions, to a record of 25-25-4-2 and they are currently fourth in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference, holding on to one of the Wild Card playoff spots.
Victoria native Dysin Mayo is enjoying a fine season with Edmonton with 11 goals and 28 assists to sit 4th in team scoring (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Royals now hit the road for a three game stretch this weekend, visiting Kelowna Friday, Kamloops Saturday and Seattle Sunday. They return to Victoria for another weekday matinee against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday February 17th. Puck drop for that one is 12:05pm.
More traffic in front of Victoria goaltender Justin Paulic, this time with Edmonton’s Brandon Boddock and Victoria’s Joe Hicketts serving as the obstacles (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Game Notes: The Royals Brandon Magee played his 300th regular season game for the Royals today and is the first player in franchise history to hit that milestone. The win moves the Royals record against Central Division teams to 9-3-0-0. Royals equipment manager Matt Aurebach also hit a milestone Monday, working in his 700th WHL game. In the 17 games since Christmas, the Royals have alllowed the fewest goals in the league with 32. Kelwona is second in that time frame with 50.
Austin Carroll’s bid for a second goal in the game rattled off the goal post on this third period opportunity (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)